jump-started by a story in The New York Times
that New York governor Eliot Spitzer had been tied to a
prostitution ring surged through the LGBT community Monday
afternoon. Spitzer campaigned in 2006 on a pledge that
he would sponsor a same-sex marriage bill and sign
that bill into law should it reach his desk.
did, in fact, introduce a bill to legalize same-sex
marriage last year and the state assembly passed that bill
toward the end of their 2007 session, the Spitzer
administration overall has been plagued with low
approval ratings. Among other things, Spitzer's top
aides were accused of misusing state troopers to essentially
investigate Republican senate majority leader Joseph
taken beating on that," said Prof. Kenneth Sherrill
of Hunter College, adding that Spitzer had basically
eroded any "reservoir of good will" that
he entered office with in January 2007. After winning the
2006 election in a landslide, Spitzer has been
especially combative with senate Republicans and
famously referred to himself as a
"steamroller" who would literally roll
right over anyone that got in his way.
Spitzer's future now seems dim. He made a brief
statement Monday afternoon flanked by his wife and did
not deny allegations that he had arranged a meeting
with a prostitute last month. "I have acted in a way
that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or
any sense of right or wrong," Spitzer said.
"I apologize first and most importantly to my
family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised
insiders said it would be very difficult for Spitzer to
continue on and be an effective leader for the state.
"Obviously he would be deeply politically
wounded by this," said one LGBT analyst with close
ties to the state party who spoke on the condition of
anonymity. "He prosecuted prostitution rings as
attorney general and he said some pretty strong things
about them. If he tried to hold on, he could be so
criticized and embarrassed that his political leverage would
The same analyst
wagered that the governor's wife, Silda Spitzer,
would play a big part in his decision over the coming
days. "I could see his wife, who's a
very smart, feisty lawyer, say, 'Listen, let's get the heck
out of the public fish bowl,'" said the source.
the situation to that of U.S. senator David Vitter of
Louisiana, who has so far weathered the storm caused when
his phone number turned up in the records of a woman
who allegedly ran a prostitution ring in Washington,
D.C. "The chances of Spitzer surviving this as
governor of New York are much lower than the chances of
David Vitter surviving as a U.S. senator," said
Sherrill. "First of all, a senator can
disappear in certain ways while a governor has day-to-day
events and responsibilities -- the state has a budget to
pass in the next two months."
If Spitzer were
to resign, Lt. Gov. David Paterson would assume the
responsibilities of governor, which most LGBT activists
guessed would be the best-case scenario for gays and
lesbians in the state. Paterson, a legally blind
African American who represented Harlem in the state
senate for nearly 20 years, has typically been ahead of his
time on gay issues over the years.
Paterson is a terrific, progressive guy -- extremely
LGBT-friendly," said Ethan Geto, a Democratic analyst
and LGBT activist. "He is somebody who would
absolutely follow through on the commitment of the
senate Democratic conference to pass gay marriage."
Paterson has been
on record in support of marriage equality as early as
1994. When Paterson was asked if he would take part in
pushing through the marriage bill following his
inauguration in January 2007, he told the New York Blade , "I'm not going to be in that
fight -- I'm going to be in front of that fight
because my first day as [senate minority leader] was
the day we passed the Sexual Orientation
Non-Discrimination Act. One of the reasons we need same-sex
marriage is because the statistics for heterosexual
marriage are so bad; that might be a way to upgrade
some of the success rates."
As far back as
1987, Paterson refused to pass a state hate-crimes bill
that didn't provide protections for gays and
lesbians. "He was willing to let everything go
down rather than to exclude us," Sherrill recalled.
leaders with knowledge of New York's political
landscape suggested that a Spitzer resignation might
work in the community's favor.
Spitzer resigns, it might be a blessing in disguise from an
LGBT agenda point of view," said the anonymous
source. "Spitzer would likely be damaged goods
whereas Paterson won't have that baggage."
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