Advocate: Duane "Optimistic" on N.Y. Marriage Bill

Thomas K. Duane

June 29, 2009


By Julie Bolcer

Sen. Thomas K. Duane (pictured far left), the openly gay legislator who carries the marriage equality bill in the New York state senate, said on Sunday that he remains “very optimistic” that it will pass before the end of this legislative session, whenever that should occur, given the unresolved leadership crisis in the senate.

“I am very optimistic -- I probably should say I’m cautiously optimistic -- but I’m very optimistic that same-sex marriage will be a reality in this state,” he said. “I believe it’s absolutely doable by the end of this session.”

Duane spoke with reporters on 5th Avenue in New York City moments before the start of the annual gay pride parade, which this year marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

He expressed confidence that the bill would come to the floor for a vote with bipartisan support after senators resolve the protracted leadership struggle that began on June 8 and has stalled official business.

“I don’t think anyone has changed their hearts on the issue of marriage at all,” said Duane. “It’s certainly my strong position, the governor’s strong position, my conference’s position, and I believe that there’s support within the Republican conference as well to bring it to the floor,” he said.

However, Duane, who on Saturday joined a new group of Democrats that met with Republican leader Sen. Dean Skelos and dissident Democrat Sen. Pedro Espada in an attempt to find a solution to the leadership crisis, could not offer a specific timetable for resolving the broader issues that have thwarted all legislation.

“Every time we talk we get closer, so talking is always good,” he said. “Negotiating is always good and that’s continuing.”

Asked whether he expected any progress on Sunday evening, when senators were due back in Albany for a special session called by Governor David Paterson, Duane replied:

“My eight ball, when I looked at it this morning, it said, “Check again later.’”