Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, the leading advocate for same-sex marriage in the Assembly, said today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo should introduce his own bill to legalize same-sex marriage, saying the move from the governor could help negotiations.
O’Donnell, a gay lawmaker from Manhattan, said he’s hopeful Cuomo will put in the bill in advance of next week’s legislative session—the last official week before lawmakers end session June 20.
“The time for the governor’s program bill is now. We should get one and then we should figure out how and when we are moving on it,” O’Donnell told Gannett.
O’Donnell last month introduced his own same-sex marriage bill in the Assembly, the same one that passed there in 2009. But he said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may be reluctant to move on it if a different version is set to be introduced by Cuomo.
That happened in 2009: The Assembly passed O’Donnell’s bill in May 2009, only to have to pass another version a few months later—at 3 a.m.—submitted by then-Gov. David Paterson when it was set to be taken up by the Senate.
The measure passed the Assembly each time, but it was rejected 24-38 in the Senate in December 2009.
O’Donnell said a program bill could help negotiations, saying “It sends the message that the intention is serious and that there is a desire by a whole lot of people to get this issue resolved.”
It could also push some fence-sitters to take a stance. Some, like Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Nassau County, has wavered because they argue they haven’t seen a bill.
Cuomo has not indicated that he plans to put in his own bill as he quietly meets with lawmakers who are undecided about whether to back same-sex marriage. Gannett has identified eight undecided senators.
“I think we’re going to pass marriage equality, and we’re working very hard to do it,” Cuomo told reporters Monday.
Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, said Cuomo may be hesitant to put in his own bill if it’s unclear the measure would pass. Cuomo and gay-rights advocates say they don’t want a vote if it’s not going to be approved.
Same-sex marriage is the last of three major initiatives sought by Cuomo this legislative session. He’s already landed deals on the first two: a property-tax cap and ethics reform.
“It could be counterintuitive, but I think the big picture is the governor is smart enough to know that right now he’s batting a thousand and we’re going into the last week of session. So why ruin a perfect batting average?” said Alesi, one of the undecided lawmakers.