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Paladino Would Veto Marriage Bill

Paladino Would Veto Marriage Bill


New York gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino made a highly anticipated appearance Tuesday morning in New York City, where he told a crowd of business leaders that, as governor, he would not sign a marriage equality bill if it were passed by legislators, but he would support a law enacted by referendum. The time frame for that kind of process? About 10 years from now.

Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo businessman and favorite of the Tea Party, took the political world by storm last month when he won the Republican nomination for governor. Since that time, he has continued to captivate and even infuriate with outlandish, sometimes offensive statements and violent outbursts.

Tuesday morning in Midtown Manhattan, Paladino spoke at a breakfast forum sponsored by Crain's New York Business.

According to NBC New York, "He said he would not sign a same-sex marriage bill if passed by legislators, but would 'enforce the law' if voters ratified same sex marriage by referendum."

Trouble is, no fast-track referendum option exists in New York, which lacks an initiative process like the kind voters commonly use in California, for example, to change the law. As a result, New York may be less at risk for a measure like Proposition 8, but it takes years, and multiple attempts, to amend the state constitution.

"We don't really have a referendum in New York," said Robert Ward, deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, in an interview with The Advocate. "The one exception is to have voters approve an amendment to the constitution. That can happen in one of two ways. One is if there is a constitutional convention, or if two consecutive legislatures approved a proposed amendment, then that would go to the voters for approval. The second of those possibilities would seem to be ruled out by his construction, so that leads back to the constitutional convention."

If a constitutional convention were to propose an amendment for marriage equality, Ward said a simple majority of voters would be needed to approve the change. However, New York state voters will not even have their next opportunity to call for a constitutional convention until 2017, or two years after the end of a hypothetical Paladino first term.

"Barring any action by the legislature, there could be no referendum on this before 2019," said Ward.

The referendum idea from Paladino hardly qualifies as surprising, given his professed opposition to marriage equality, with support extending only to civil unions. In terms of other potential surprises, a Paladino victory over Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo looks unlikely according to a new Siena poll, which shows the attorney general with a 24-point lead over Paladino.

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