Governor Paterson Introduces Gay Marriage Bill

As expected, Governor David Paterson today introduced a marriage equality bill in the New York state legislature.

Gay and lesbian couples should have the fundamental civil right to wed in New York State, just as partners of the opposite sex do, Gov. David A. Paterson said Thursday.

Paterson called on the Legislature to provide civil rights justice for gay and lesbian couples, saying their rights have been ignored for too long.

"What we have is not a crisis of issues, we have a crisis of leadership," Paterson said Thursday at his Manhattan office. "This is a civil rights issue. For too long . . . we have pretended that they have the same rights as their neighbors and their friends."

This bill would amend New York's domestic partnership law to confer full civil marriage rights to same sex couples.

This is not the first marriage equality bill to go through the New York legislature. In 2007, the state Assembly passed a similar bill introduced by Gov. Spitzer but the Senate, then controlled by Republicans, blocked it. Unfortunately, even now that Democrats have won control of the state Senate, word is that they don't have the votes to pass this bill...yet. That could change, of course. A lot has happened since 2007 including the addition of Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa to the list of states that have legalized gay marriage as well as the fact that New York's two US Senators have come out in favor of marriage equality. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released this statement upon Paterson's introduction of the bill today:

:"New York and the nation are ready to start a new chapter. The time has come for full marriage equality. I commend the Governor for his leadership on this important issue. If Iowa can do it, so can we."

It's a measure of how far the movement for equality has come that politicians at the highest level are actually touting their support for it as they begin their runs for re-election, not avoiding it. More governors and senators should follow their lead.

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NY-20: Team Tedisco Challenged Kirsten Gillibrand's Ballot

Up in NY-20, much as in Minnesota, the Republican attempts at cherry picking which ballots should count and which should not has gotten pretty out of hand. First they went after those insidious college students. You won't be surprised to learn that in their defense, they're invoking the f-word (via TAP):

The Tedisco campaign is now also challenging ballots of students who come from outside the 20th Congressional District, many of whom attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.

Yesterday, Republicans began objecting systematically to absentee ballots cast by voters who maintain second homes in some of the southern parts of the district, and Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman called late last night to say that several of the student ballots were being challenged on grounds that the students improperly claimed residency within the district.


"It's ridiculous-these same students voted with no problem in November," Bulman said. He did not have a specific number of student ballots that were challenged.

James Walsh, an attorney representing Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, said yesterday, "What we're doing is trying to prevent fraud."

So what's their reasoning, one wonders, behind challenging Senator Gillibrand's ballot.

This is getting out of control. Word from Columbia County is that when US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up to be counted, the Tedisco camp objected. No, really. I am not making that up. Why on earth would they object to a legal resident of the district's ballot? A legal resident, not to metion FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN REPRESENTING NY-20 AND CURRENT SITTING SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK?

Their reason given:

This just in from Columbia County: when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up in the queue, the poll watchers for Jim Tedisco objected to it, saying the senator was in the county on election day and should have voted in person.

Democracy by loophole: it's the Republican way.

It should be noted that this is all happening as Scott Murphy expands his lead to 56 votes.

Update [2009-4-14 17:36:52 by Todd Beeton]:Statement from Senator Gillibrand's office (via e-mail):

“The Republican’s challenge is frivolous and without merit. This is part of their larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay the inevitable Democratic victory in the 20th. Every day that the national Republicans waste with their dishonest stalling tactics is another day Upstate New Yorkers are deprived their Member of Congress. Senator Gillibrand looks forward to working with Scott Murphy in Congress to support President Obama plans to turn this economy around and create good paying jobs.”

NYS election law says that an elector must intend to be out of the COUNTY on Election Day when the elector submits the absentee ballot or requests the application.

Senator Gillibrand requested and completed an absentee ballot because she did not expect to be able to vote at her polling location since votes were scheduled in the Senate that day. Furthermore, Republican claims that she was in the county are false. She was not in Columbia County on Election Day.

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NY-Gov, NY-Sen: David Paterson Toxic, Rubbing Off On Gillibrand

No matter how far behind him the Caroline Kennedy mess gets, David Paterson just can't seem to gain any new upward momentum in favorability, job approval or head to head re-election match-ups. According to a new Siena Research Institute Poll (626 RVs, March 16-18, MOE +/- 3.9%):

Paterson is viewed favorably by 29 percent of voters and unfavorably by 58 percent, down from last month‟s 40-47 percent rating. His job performance rating is 19 percent positive, 78 percent negative down from 28-69 percent last month. Only 14 percent of voters are prepared to elect Paterson as Governor in 2010, compared to 67 percent who prefer "someone else." That‟s down from 19-57 percent last month. [...]

In a hypothetical 2010 Democratic primary for Governor, Cuomo leads Paterson 67-17 percent, up from last month's 53-27 percent. In December Paterson led 49-26 percent. In a potential general election matchup, Giuliani beats Paterson 56-33 percent, up from 51-36 percent last month. Paterson led 51-38 percent in December. Cuomo leads Giuliani 51-41 percent, similar to last month's 51-38 percent.

A Siena spokesman calls the speed with which Paterson's numbers are falling "staggering." While there is more than a year and a half until the election, it's difficult to see how he turns this around and really underscores how perilous being a governor these days can be.

Paterson's mis-handled Senate appointment is widely considered responsible for setting this downward spiral in motion and it turns out Paterson's unpopularity may be rubbing off on the recipient of that appointment, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. As of now, the best Gillibrand can do against a hypothetical match-up with former Governor George Pataki is a tie.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a 26-20 percent favorable rating (down from 34-20 percent last month), with 54 percent of voters having no opinion. Former Governor George Pataki has a 49-41 percent favorable rating. While 23 percent of voters are prepared to elect Gillibrand in 2010, 37 percent prefer ,,someone else.‟ In hypothetical match-ups, Gillibrand beats Rep. Peter King 47-23 percent (up from 40-27 percent last month) and is in a dead heat (41-41 percent) against Pataki.

No doubt this tie is largely a function of name recognition but look at that trend. What is it that Sen. Gillibrand has done to earn a dropping favorability rating? Certainly nothing except be inextricably linked to the toxic Paterson. Gillibrand has plenty of time to create new associations with voters, but I don't think Paterson has the same luxury. At some point, a decision is going to have to be made and I hope all parties agree that Paterson must drop out and endorse Cuomo for governor.

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NY-20: Democratic Candidate Chosen To Run For Gillibrand's Seat

While Governor David Paterson has not yet set a date for the NY-20 special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House, the local party chairs of the 20th have now chosen their respective candidates (who needs a pesky primary where the "people" decide anyway!?)

Well, NY-20 Dems promised they'd select a nominee before kickoff, and they did. This afternoon, the CD's Dem county chairs nominated venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D) as their standard-bearer in a special election to replace Sen./Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Murphy will face Assemb. Min. Leader Jim Tedisco (R). Gov. David Paterson (D) has promised that he'll announce the date of the election soon, and most observers expect a spring contest.

Making the stench of the selection process by which the candidates were chosen even worse, the choice of Murphy -- who has not held elected office before -- appears to have been driven almost entirely by his wealth:

But, given the fact that neither the DCCC nor the NRCC has a lot of money (or, in the case of the national Democrats, inclination) to spend on this race, Murphy's expected ability to self fund came into play.

According to one Democratic chairman, Murphy came to the table with $600,000 in a mix of his own money and contributions, be they pledged or already collected.

Certainly, his ActBlue page has already collected just over $202k from almost 300 donors, a good thing since Michael Steele has already announced his intention to target the seat to fulfill his pledge to start winning again in the Northeast.

"That win will send a powerful signal to the rest of the country...that our game is not up," Steele said of the New York special election to fill the Republican-leaning seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was recently appointed to the Senate.

Steele said he is traveling to New York next week to meet with state officials to map out a game plan for their candidate, State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.

While the 20th still has a significant Republican voter registration advantage (195k vs. 125k), upstate New York is trending blue and in fact the district voted for Obama in November. This race will be a real fight but an important one, not only in order to keep our majority at top strength but also to deprive Steele of a victory right out of the gate.

Learn more about Murphy at his website and help bring his average contribution down over at ActBlue.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Smart Choice?

Crossposted at MotleyMoose and C4ODemocrats

So did you notice who was standing behind Kirsten Gillibrand and Governor Patterson and clapping away enthusiastically during the announcement of her appointment today? It was former NY Senator D'Amato, the Republican powerhouse who propelled the relatively unknown Pataki to the Governor's house at Albany. As soon as KG's name was announced, D'Amato's protege Republican Congressman Peter King put out a Press release which showed he is taking two steps backwards now from an almost certain Senate run at 2010. So what's going on?

NewsDay Article

Even Tweety and his talking heads were perplexed in his Hardball program today. (It is another question as to how poorly researched are these so called opinion makers and talking heads in our Cable Shows these days). Gillibrand, as it turns out is an interesting choice as noted in the following NYTimes article.

NYTimes Article

She comes from a politically connected family; her father is a prominent state lobbyist who once had close ties to former Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, and her grandmother was prominent in the formidable Albany Democratic machine. Ms. Gillibrand worked as an intern for a Republican senator, Alfonse M. D'Amato, and clerked for a federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

She actually interned for D'Amato and her dad was very close to Pataki..on the other hand she is very close to Hillary Clinton (having access to the Clinton donor machine), Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Her politics is complex and intriguing. She is pro-choice, pro gay marriage, wants to withdraw troops from Iraq, opposes privatization of Social Security, but on the other hand is pro-gun (highly rated by NRA) and opposed the Wall Street bailout...

 Her politics, perhaps reflecting her conservative district, cannot be easily charted along a left-right axis. She earned a high rating from the National Rifle Association and opposed efforts to extend state drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. At the same time, she favors abortion rights, voted to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and to extend middle-class tax cuts, and she has opposed privatizing Social Security. She raises large sums of money from Wall Street, but voted against the first bailout bill last fall; that vote angered some Democratic leaders in Congress.

Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights group, said that he spoke by phone with Representative Gillibrand on Thursday night and that she spoke in favor of same-sex marriage. This would make her the first United States senator from New York to endorse gay marriage; Charles E. Schumer, the state's senior senator, opposes it.

"She spoke eloquently about the 1,324 rights that are denied to same-sex couples in New York," Mr. Van Capelle said.

An aide to Ms. Gillibrand confirmed that she supports gay marriage.

She was an outspoken supporter of Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign and has drawn financial support from prominent women's groups in Washington, not least Emily's List.

She has insisted, to the point of annoying Congressional colleagues, on openness in government, posting a "Sunlight Report" on her Congressional Web site listing her meetings with lobbyists as well as the names of individuals seeking government grants known as earmarks.

So what did Paterson's appointment of KG actually do? Surely it neutralized a strong challenge from Republicans (or at least one branch of the Repubs) during 2010 GE. On the other hand, it had angered a branch of the Democratic Party. But I think Paterson made a calculation that Cuomo will remember his failed bid in 2002 primaries against McCall when he angered several Black leaders in NY. So Cuomo may not challenge Paterson as a payback in 2010 Gubernatorial primaries, after all. As for Cuomo challenging KG, consider this, KG worked as a special counsel for Andrew Cuomo during Clinton Administration when he was the HUD Secretary...the only missing card is Guilani...and KG is very enthusiastic, publishes her daily schedule on her webpage, openly list her earmarks (Talk about open Government), and is a phenomenal fundraiser. With Clinton and Schumer supporting KG along with the Governor, I think Cuomo will think twice before challenging KG to a primary.

Well so folks, Paterson's move may not be as politically naive and bumbling as the TV talking heads are making out to be..I would wait and see ....

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