Following a day of chaos in the New York Senate, Governor David Paterson has called a second extraordinary session for today and placed marriage equality at the top of the list of bills on the agenda.
Yesterday's extraordinary session can only be described as kindergarten chaos:
"New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two. Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.
So then something extraordinary — and rather embarrassing — happened.
The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on. 'This is turning into the worst reality TV show ever: ‘I’m a Senator, Get Me Out of Here,’' said Thomas R. Suozzi, Nassau County executive and former Democratic candidate for governor. 'Jon and Kate are fighting less than these guys'"
Late yesterday, the Empire State Pride Agenda released the following statement:
"This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn demonstration in New York City, a pivotal event in the LGBT rights movement. Tomorrow, the New York State Senate has the opportunity to show that we have indeed made progress over the last four decades. Governor Paterson has put the marriage bill on the agenda for tomorrow’s extraordinary session. Senators will now have before them a bill (S.4401) authorizing same-sex couples to marry in New York State. The New York State Senate now has the chance to do what the Assembly has done twice, and what a majority of New Yorkers support and that is to vote to allow same-sex couples access to marriage and the 1324 rights and protections that come with a New York State civil marriage license. As we have seen from the growing level of support on this issue, this is not a partisan matter. It is a matter of equal treatment under the law. We urge the New York State Senate to vote on and pass this crucially important human rights bill tomorrow. LGBT New Yorkers expect and deserve such a vote. New York State, with a proud progressive tradition, should not continue a situation in which some of its citizens are deprived of their rights. When more than a million LGBT people and their friends and families gather in New York City this weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement, we hope that there will be another pivotal event—marriage equality—for them to celebrate."