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N.Y. LG Hopeful Happy to Break Marriage Deadlock

N.Y. LG Hopeful Happy to Break Marriage Deadlock

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Rochester mayor Robert Duffy, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in New York, said that he would look forward to casting the tie-breaking vote in the event of state senate deadlock on the marriage equality bill.

On Wednesday evening Duffy campaigned at the fund-raiser hosted by the HRC Campaign for New York Marriage, among the groups working to elect pro-equality senators and defeat lawmakers who voted against the marriage equality bill, which lost by a 38-24 margin last December. The lieutenant governor holds the position of president of the senate, which includes the power to cast the decisive vote on legislation in the event of a tie.

"If I'm elected on Tuesday with Andrew Cuomo, if I'm a lieutenant governor and there is a 31-31 tie, I look forward to being the tie-breaking vote," said Duffy in a brief interview. "Nobody has to guess my position on marriage equality."

The prospect of a tie vote, while rare, is not inconceivable in the state senate, where Democrats hold a slim 32-30 majority and hope for a net gain of two to three more pro-equality seats Tuesday. Meanwhile, Republicans project confidence of a senate takeover, and their current leader, Dean Skelos of Long Island, said this month that if the GOP wins the majority, he would recommend that the marriage equality bill be brought to the floor for a vote and that his members would be free to vote their consciences, although not a single Republican voted for the bill last year. In either majority scenario, advocates will still need to flip some of the senators who voted no on the bill the first time.

While the timing of another vote rests with the senate, Duffy, a former police chief and the son of a former Catholic nun, suggested that a Cuomo administration would be eager to move quickly on the bill. Some advocates anticipate another vote on the bill within months.

"If we're elected, I think you will see very clearly where Governor Cuomo and his team stand," he said. "Andrew and I have had this discussion. He's been very clear about marriage equality. You won't see any hesitation."

Other speakers at the fund-raiser in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, including New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, also hinted at action soon to come.

"This is not the time to walk away," said the mayor. "We're probably closer than ever."

Brian Ellner, senior strategist for HRC's Campaign for New York Marriage, told attendees, "We're going to do it. We're going to win this thing very quickly."

Duffy also campaigned Wednesday evening at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village, where the city's Democratic LGBT political clubs rallied around their endorsed slate of statewide and local candidates. Cuomo did not attend either event, but he appeared earlier at a rally with President Bill Clinton in Brooklyn, where he spoke of the push for equality.

Elected officials at the Center sought to pump up the enthusiasm of the crowd in advance of voting Tuesday.

"You are the enthusiasm," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "You are the gap. You can change it."

Back at the fund-raiser, HRC announced the latest steps in its star-studded New Yorkers for Marriage Equality video series, which has featured celebrities with local ties including Julianne Moore, Fran Drescher, Moby, and, soon to come, Ethan Hawke, among other impeding surprises.

Hawke, who stars in Blood From a Stone, which opens on Broadway in December, shared his decidedly unromantic views on marriage with The Advocate. He and girlfriend Ryan Shawhughes, who also attended, married in 2008.

"If I had thought more deeply about it, I would have refused to get married until everyone else could get married," he said. "I don't romanticize the institution of marriage, but the truth is, there are real advantages that come with marriage and it should be available to everyone. That is why I am involved with this."

Organizers said the HRC event raised around $50,000 for marriage equality efforts in New York.
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