Apparently, the same holds true with the New York Democratic Party leadership. They exploited the aspirations of gay rights supporters by selling them the hope of promptly moving to legalize same-sex marriage in return for campaign contributions to get party members elected. Now they are telling those same voters that swift action on same-sex marriage legislation may make them unelectable in the future.
According to a New York Times article by Jeremy W. Peters:
After a pledge from New York Democratic leaders that their party would legalize same-sex marriage if they won control of the State Senate this year, money from gay rights supporters poured in from across the country, helping cinch a Democratic victory.
But now, party leaders have sent strong signals that they may not take up the issue during the 2009 legislative session. Some of them suggest it may be wise to wait until 2011 before considering it, in hopes that Democrats can pick up more Senate seats and Gov. David A. Paterson, a strong backer of gay rights, would then be safely into a second term.
The New York Democratic leadership collected millions of dollars from the gay community with false promises of prompt action on legalizing same-sex marriage and now they will not deliver on their promises. According to the New York Times article:
Daniel J. O’Donnell, an assemblyman from the Upper West Side who led the push for the bill in the Assembly.
Mr. O’Donnell added that expectations are high in the gay community that New York will be able to deliver the movement’s next victory. “The leadership of the Senate and others in our community collected a lot of money from a lot of people with the promise — spoken and unspoken — that if the Democrats won the Senate, they would take a vote,” he said.
Mr. O’Donnell plans to introduce a bill relatively early in the 2009 session, setting up a possible confrontation with the Senate.
However, Daniel J. O'Donnell's plan to introduce a bill faces a certain clash with the Democratic Party leadership who, as detailed above, "have sent strong signals that they may not take up the issue during the 2009 legislative session."
According to the New York Times article, some party leaders may even want to wait until 2011 when, Governor David A. Paterson "would then be safely into a second term." Unfortunately, when the New York Democrats raised campaign contributions for same-sex marriage supporters, they failed to disclose that action to legalize same-sex marriage would be contingent on Governor David A. Paterson getting re-elected in 2011.
In effect, the Democratic Party leadership is now saying to same-sex marriage supporters, “Wait a few year years. We need to get Governor David A. Paterson re-elected, before we try to legalize same-sex marriage.”
Apparently, the gay community is a victim of political expedience. The Democrats believe that quick action on same-sex marriage may penalize them in future elections. Liz Krueger, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, was quoted by the New York Times as saying:
We want to get there, but we want to get there the right way or else we risk setting ourselves back another decade.
Senator Thomas K. Duane, a leading advocate on gay and lesbian issues, was quoted by the New York Times as saying:
“I can’t even imagine before the budget’s done that we would do anything,” Mr. Duane said. The Legislature is required to pass its budget before the state’s fiscal year begins on April 1.
But even once the budget is passed, Mr. Duane said, other factors will have to be weighed, like whether the timing is too politically risky for the governor.
“We definitely want David Paterson to run for re-election and to win,” he said. “There’ll be a discussion. And we’ll have a point of view about time frame; he’ll have a point of view on time frame.”
People with knowledge of Governor Paterson’s position on gay marriage said the governor is wary of making a big push for the bill as the Senate leadership remains in flux.
So now we have the New York Democratic Party leadership attempting to con both supporters of same-sex marriage and opponents of same-sex marriage. They sold hope of "prompt action" to legalize same-sex marriage to proponents of same-sex marriage. Now, it seems that they are holding out the possibility of delay (code word - the hope of no action) to opponents of same-sex marriage. The party leadership wants to con opponents of same-sex marriage that holding back on prompt action to legalize same-sex marriage makes them electable for another term, by selling them on the hope of maybe never taking action.
To the supporters of same-sex marriage the New York Democratic Party leadership said in effect, “Give us your money, elect us, and we will move to quickly legalize same-sex marriage.”
To opponents of same-sex marriage they say in effect, “Elect us and ignore our rhetoric supporting same-sex marriage. We value your votes and even maybe your future money, too. So we won’t vote for it anytime soon. You still have a chance to change our minds on this issue.”
In New York, the Governor David A. Paterson is a Democrat, and the Democratic Party controls both the State Senate and Assembly. They are concerned that some Democrats may not vote in favor of a same-sex marriage law.
I say, "Baloney." This is about honoring a campaign promise to take "prompt action" on legalizing same-sex marriage in return for campaign contributions. The New York Democratic leadership should not make promises to voters that they will not keep.
I am not debating the merits of legalizing same-sex marriage. My point is that politicians often pander to the aspirations of trusting constituencies to get elected, only to make excuses to them after collecting their campaign money. Like many politicians, I preyed on the hopes and aspirations of gullible investors.
Let's bring the issue of legalized same-sex marriage to a vote in the 2009 legislative session for the sake of both constituencies – supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
Pandering rhetoric is cheap for politicians supporting each side of the issue. Politicians should show courage and vote on same-sex marriage, despite the political consequences and make good on their promises to voters.
To the Democratic leadership, I remind you of a quote from the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" by Senator Jefferson Smith, played by James Stewart:
I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.'... And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any other. Yes, you even die for them.
Whichever side loses a vote in the current legislative session can live to fight another day by bringing it to a vote again, after the next election. That's what democracy is all about.
Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)
Other posts of interest from my White Collar Fraud blog:
Disclosure: I am a registered Democrat (in New York convicted felons have the right to vote), but I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans from the right to the left of the political spectrum.