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NY GOP Senator Alesi Predicts Passage of Marriage Equality with 35 Votes, Speaks Out About Support: VIDEO


NY Senator James Alesi, who yesterday became the first Republican to publicly support marriage equality in the state, told a radio station this morning that he expects it to pass with 35 votes:

Alesi, a Republican who announced on Monday he would vote yes on same-sex marriage legalization, told Fred Dicker on Talk 1300 AM that a successful vote would actually help Republicans in New York because it would remove the controversial issue.

“I think there will be ramifications either way” whether there’s a vote or not,” he said.

Alesi also said he expected to lose the Conservative Party line when he runs for re-election in 2012.

Alesi told Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin that he "is counting on the support of same-sex marriage advocates and their allies to help him with his re-election bid in 2012, assuming state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long makes good on his pledge to un-endorse any Republican who breaks with the party on this line-in-the-sand issue."

Added Benjamin:

“I am not going to put any undue pressure on any of them. I will on the floor explain why I’ve voting for this, but I think by and large most of my friends on both sides of the aisle understand why I am doing it. And they should clearly understand that this is nothing more than a matter of being equal.”

Watch Alesi speak to Liz Benjamin about being an "emissary", AFTER THE JUMP...

Ny Meanwhile, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos promising to take "a pound of flesh" from the Senate majority should the bill pass.

Equality Matters' Carlos Maza put out a memo to NY Republicans telling them not to be afraid of supporting marriage equality, debunking myths that it will cost them their offices.

In related news, GOP Senator Greg Ball continues to say his support for the bill hinges on language defining religious exemptions:

Aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo were finalizing it Monday with gay rights advocates, and promised to release it….soon...

Cuomo said Monday the bill will be “roughly” the same as the 2009 legislation, and noted that many of the things Ball is asking for are rendered illegal by current state laws, which mandate no one can be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

As one same-sex marriage advocate put it to me yesterday: “We’re not going to write discrimination into law.”

Watch Alesi speak to Liz Benjamin about being an "emissary", AFTER THE JUMP...

Contact your NY Senator using my Friend-setter page at Friendfactor. Or use the contact information here. Your Senator needs to hear from you.

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  1. Grisanti has moved from "no" to "undecided" apparently. But Ball's illegal discriminatory demands of the bill are very very disheartening.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 14, 2011 12:17:29 PM

  2. I'm actually starting to believe that this is really going to happen.

    If it passes, the multifaceted process of coalition building and implementation that was used in New York needs to become the nationwide template for how to get this thing done in other states and nationally.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jun 14, 2011 12:32:59 PM

  3. @Tampazeke: I'm actually a little more pessimistic today. It seems that the Dems & Alesi have put on a full-court press, which is great, but it probably means that those last 2 votes are not immediately forthcoming. The fact that Cuomo hasn't brought forth the bill yet is also concerning. I would hate for Ball's ridiculous demands to be the make-or-break here.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 14, 2011 12:41:00 PM

  4. We've got to keep the momentum up -- especially as today the Catholic Church and the Conservative Party are going ballistic. We need to grab three more Republican votes (2 for passage, 1 for safety) before Cuomo's going to introduce the bill. If the bill is going to pass, a few more Republicans will probably vote yes as well. However, I am starting to get a little nervous since we've only got Alesi on board and we need to lock someone else in today to keep this train moving. So much of this also depends on Skelos -- the bill won't happen unless he allows it to happen (despite his election year assurances that he would allow a vote).

    Grisanti might be gettable, but the way Bell's been going on, I don't know if we can get his vote. Only one half of his demands are reasonable, the other half (especially "individual exemptions") is dangerous.

    Posted by: Jollysocks | Jun 14, 2011 1:06:06 PM

  5. I hope that Cuomo is sitting down with Ball and some other GOP Senators and perhaps a constitutional lawyer and hammering out the religious exemption stuff. That would be the way to proceed it seems.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 14, 2011 1:25:29 PM

  6. Dear Senators Hannon, Skelos, and Fuscillo:

    As a former Baldwin resident and Past President of the Nassau County Young Republicans, who worked tirelessly on your campaigns for a decade, I am asking that you stand for what is right and support Marriage Equality in New York State.

    Kemp, in the late 1970s, you ran for NYS Assembly for the first time. I met you daily, running ahead of you to make sure that we knocked on every door in South Hempstead for your first campaign. I spoke to voters, delivered literature, and worked phone banks on your behalf. While I certainly can’t claim credit for the victory that launched your life-long electoral career, I can recount the endless effort I put into your campaigns. You accepted that help gratefully. You didn’t ask whether I was gay or straight, and it didn’t seem to matter.

    Dean and Charlie, your very electoral survival is due, in part, to the tireless efforts of gay men on your behalf. When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980 and again in 1984, there were serious concerns that he could not carry a state such as New York….and that his coattails (or lack thereof) might damage ‘local’ Republicans. None of you complained when Terry Dolan, a gay man, founded and operated NCPAC (the National Conservative Political Action Committee) out of a Greenwich Village rowhouse, to insure a lopsided Reagan victory in New York. Rolling into the 1990s, you all were nervous when Bill Clinton was polling double-digits ahead of George HW Bush, and, later, Bob Dole on Long Island….but that didn’t stop you from calling on the expertise of Art Finkelstein – another gay man – who had practically set up shop out of Nassau Co GOP Headquarters, beginning with his engineering of Al D’Amato to the statehouse. As Clinton steamrolled over the GOP in NY, Finkelstein coordinated media messages that resulted in victories from Pataki down to yourselves. And in spite of the Democratic wins in NY and nationally, you all managed to hang on to your seats for three decades.

    All with the help – acknowledged or not – of gay men you on whom you were more than happy to rely.

    I organized rallies, manned phone banks, coordinated enthusiastic youth for your events, ran local headquarter operations, and responded to every request.

    And so now, as an “out,” gay man in his 50’s, I ask this of you: Do the right thing, and take this opportunity to end the apartheid treatment of your gay and lesbian constituents.

    I now live in New Hampshire, arguably a far more conservative state than New York. We have had full Marriage Equality for a year and a half now. The sky has not fallen. Churches have not been forced to do anything contrary to their beliefs. Marriages across society have not suffered. Children have not been harmed.

    Rather, people have avoided bankruptcy and unaddressed illness because they’ve been covered by their spouses health insurance. Children have been able to refer to their parents, rather than “mom and her friend.” Hospitals and banks have been able to afford spousal recognition on marital property. Couples have been afforded security and equality. And society has continued, stronger than ever.

    Gay men and women are all around you. They have voted for you, strategized for you, and campaigned for you. They have the same dreams for their children, the same hopes and dreams for their future as any other of your constituents.

    Do the right thing, and be a part of history in New York.


    T. Thomas Fitzsimmons
    (f/k/a Thomas Simmons)

    Posted by: Tully Fitzsimmons | Jun 14, 2011 1:37:44 PM

  7. Sean Avery is sitting down with Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) right now to have a talk with him about voting yes. I really think Lanza is our next closest "get". Not sure what's running through Grisani's head though.

    Once again, I really don't know what's going to appease Bell, is he grandstanding or trying to move the goal posts and waste time?

    Have heard VERY little from the other "votes in play" people -- Hannon, Fuscillo, McDonald and Betty Little. I think McDonald especially might be in play but he doesn't want to be the 32nd vote (or the 31st for that matter). Some combination of Lanza, McDonald, and someone else for safety's sake is what we need to put this bill over the top.

    Does anyone else here have inside to these undecided senators? If any of these people are YOUR senators, PLEASE call (they're frankly not listening to out of staters at this point). And if you do call, please post what response you get here so we can all keep track.

    Posted by: Jollysocks | Jun 14, 2011 1:51:57 PM

  8. It's the "Not" that's the heart of the matter, Tully.

    Terry Dolan was a monster.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 14, 2011 1:54:23 PM

  9. James Alesi states: "This is nothing more than a matter of being equal.”

    Really? Well, consider this. Gay rights proponents say that homosexuality is not a choice, rather it is genetic. If that is so, then there must be a gay gene that is recessive and that gets passed down from one generation to the next through carriers of this gay gene having sex with the opposite sex. If gay rights proponents had the strength of their convictions they would admit that by attempting to remove the stigma associated with gays getting married to each other they are making it less likely that gays will marry and have children with an opposite sex person. This means that it will become even less likely that gays will pass their gay gene onto the next generation. The result is inescapable; legalizing gay marriage will reduce the number of gay children born each year and those who favor gay marriage are doing more to eliminate gays from society than anything that opponents of gay marriage could possibly do.

    Posted by: rennin1 | Jun 18, 2011 3:16:56 AM

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