There are several interesting details in the story in which the NYTimes portrays the brilliant strategizing of Governor Andrew Cuomo and nominates him for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. Cuomo according to the story did a deft job of herding the gerbils in favor of the legislation, suggesting that past efforts may have failed as much because of gay rights coalitions going in different directions as from the opposition forces lobbying Republicans and conservative Democrats.Featured high in the story is Cuomo's bringing several Wall Street types (by implication Republicans) into the effort. According to the story, these bankers, hedge fund managers, etc. responded by contributing to the pro-legislation coalition, and also by promising Republican legislators threatened with defeat next election that they would support them. Example: "A major target was James S. Alesi, a Republican from suburban Rochester, who seemed tormented by his 2009 vote....The coalition approached him from every angle. The Republican donors invited him to a meeting on Park Avenue, telling him they would eagerly support him if he backed same-sex marriage. 'Thats not the kind of lily pad I normally hop on,' Mr. Alesi recalled." This time he did. Was that vote purchased?And then the interesting case of the marital status of two big guns, Andrew Cuomo and Carl Krueger, both of whom might be described as post-marriage. What resonance did opponents of the legislation have in their thinking and life experience?And then in a second Times story on the religious exemptions there is this information: "Finally, the legislation contained what is known as an inseverability clause. If a court found any part of the act to be invalid, the entire legislation would also be invalid. The clause is an important provision to Republicans because it means that the marriage legislation would be at risk if the religious exemptions were successfully challenged in court." And the New York Civil Liberties Union approved! The exemptions seem to have been the work of State Senator Stephen Saland, previously discussed below.This is why pundits describe the legislative process as sausage making.
Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal.