ALBANY, July 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – State lawmakers backing legalization of same-sex “marriage” in New York last month reportedly outraged even some fellow supportive lawmakers with 11th-hour changes to Senate rules. The changes allowed the bill to be pushed through on a tight schedule, but deprived senators of a chance to explain their “yes” votes to angry constituencies.
“Essentially the Senate rules were changed in a backroom agreement before session started and then changed again during the vote to make sure it would be concluded to make the 11 p.m. newscasts,” wrote David King of the Gotham Gazette, just after the bill became law on June 24.
King also confirmed reports that the public was shut out of committee meetings on the bill, which one of his sources claimed is illegal.
The trouble began when Sen. Ruben Diaz, the only Democrat in the chamber supporting traditional marriage, was preparing to lay aside the bill for debate: a move that would have slowed the process, but was within his rights as senator to be granted upon request.
However, because the rules had been secretly changed, Diaz’s request was ignored, and senators lost their chance to explain their votes – an opportunity many considered critical to their political image regarding the hot-button issue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, widely considered the driving force behind the bill, appears to have been behind the change: King reports that Cuomo aide Steve Cohen was on the Senate floor, trying to “shut down debate” and rush the bill through in order for Cuomo to be able to sign it by 11 p.m.
King explained that turmoil on the Senate floor erupted after senators discovered that they were barred from explaining their votes. Same-sex “marriage” proponent and Democrat Senator Kevin Parker, who disclosed what happened at the Senate to the Gazette, was one of them.
Parker admitted that most of his constituency opposes gay “marriage,” and said he felt it was urgent for him to be able to explain his vote. The Gazette reports that several other lawmakers were also “visibly distraught” over the lost chance.
When Senate staff informed the Democrat that he would not be able to explain the vote, he was “livid,” wrote King, and “cursed out the governor and eventually stormed to the podium where Duffy was presiding — a number of other Democratic senators followed him, seemingly to calm him down.” The senator eventually tried to leave the room.
“I go to the door, and I tried to leave, and they had us locked in. I tried to leave, and they had us locked on to the floor,” Parker told the Gazette. After he made it out of the chamber, he continued, “One sergeant of arms physically grabbed me.
“I was appalled. I’m a senator.”
Parker says his way was blocked several more times by other individuals. “I’ve never seen a member treated in such a manner. I’ve never seen white member treated that way,” said Parker, who is black.
Parker now says it was a mistake not to support Diaz’s right to lay the bill aside. “I didn’t like what he had to say. No one wanted to hear it but it was his right as a member. Essentially the lieutenant governor ignored his request, and shame on us not standing up for him,” said Parker.
The Gazette also reported that Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group was told by two state troopers that citizens were forced out of committee meetings on the bill, something Mahoney said was illegal.
The troopers responded that they had simply been following orders, according to Mahoney.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown expressed disgust at the news.
“The bill was declared an emergency — allowing them to introduce new religious liberty language just hours before the vote, instead of the usual 3 days. The rules were changed again while the vote was taking place — and even senators treated shamefully, essentially locked on the floor of the Senate — and why? So Governor Cuomo could make the 11 o’clock news,” wrote Brown.
“It’s high time for change in Albany.”