By Peter J. Smith
ALBANY, New York, November 6, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Gov. David Paterson has convoked an extraordinary session of the New York State Legislature to address the state's soaring budget deficit, as well as to pass legislation that would legalize same-sex "marriage."
Paterson issued a special proclamation Thursday announcing the special session would convene on November 10 at noon. He said the legislature would take up consideration of the Governor's $5.2 billion "Deficit Reduction Plan" - a proposal which promises steep cuts in government spending - along with several other items including the same-sex "marriage" bill already passed by the Assembly.
The fate of same-sex "marriage" rests with the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin 32-30 majority over Republicans. However the effort to preserve the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is led by Bronx Democrat and Hispanic minister Ruben Diaz Sr., who has been relentless in his efforts to keep the bill from coming to a vote until next year, when every member of the Senate will be up for re-election and have the consequences of their votes in mind.
Several Democrats have indicated they would vote with Sen. Diaz to block the same-sex "marriage" bill, meaning that Democrat leaders pushing the bill would have to count on peeling away some Republican votes.
However, even though Minority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) has agreed to allow party members a "conscience vote," punishment for voting the wrong way on same-sex "marriage" could come from another source: the newly invigorated conservative movement.
Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), President pro tempore of the Senate, expressed doubt to the New York Times that the measure would pass if it came to a vote. Sen. Smith said that GOP senators leaning toward supporting the bill "might have been spooked" by conservatives successfully demolishing socially liberal GOP Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava's bid for Congress in the NY-23 special election, whose position on same-sex "marriage" became a campaign issue.
A spokeswoman for Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), the caucus leader of Senate Democrats, would not tell the Times whether or not Sampson would allow the same-sex "marriage" bill to come to the floor for a vote.
Paterson is seeking to make New York the sixth US state to legalize same-sex "marriage." But his political window of opportunity to successfully rally support behind the legislation has closed sharply since the November election. Voters in the liberal enclave of Maine rejected same-sex "marriage" at the ballot box, reducing the number of states with same-sex "marriage" from seven to six, and some legislators in New Hampshire are proposing that state voters now should get the chance to have a referendum on their own same-sex "marriage" law.
Nonetheless it is Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. (D-Bronx), who has proved Gov. Paterson's most intractable opponent, vowing to do whatever it takes to prevent the bill from getting to the floor of the Senate this year.
"I have been, I am, and I will be one of the strongest opponents of this bill," Diaz told LifeSiteNews.com in a telephone interview two weeks ago when news of the special session first became public.
While the Bronx Democrat has fought to keep a bipartisan majority in the Senate opposed to same-sex "marriage," he told LSN that he would "not oppose" the bill coming to a vote on the Senate floor in 2010. By then, lawmakers would have on their minds re-election and would be desirous of avoiding their votes on same-sex "marriage" becoming burning a campaign issue.
For that reason, Sen. Diaz said that Gov. Paterson was "desperate" to get the bill passed this year and secure their support for his own election effort.
"I can assure you, that the gay community will say goodbye to anything that has to do with gay 'marriage' next year," continued Diaz. "Whatever they want to do, they want to be sure to do it this year."
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
New York Governor Says Gay "Marriage" Bill Back on Table for Upcoming Special Session
LSN Exclusive interview with Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) who is spearheading opposition to the bill in the Senate