Same-sex marriage supporters rally at Capitol
As the battle over same sex marriage heats up, supporters of the bill are trying to lobby both Republican and Democratic senators who are still on the fence. Our Nick Reisman tells us more on how the president of one of the state's biggest unions was called in to put pressure on the undecided.
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NEW YORK STATE -- It's a prospect some Republican lawmakers don't want to face: Losing support from the state's small, but powerful Conservative Party. As the battle over same-sex marriage heats up, the party's powerful chairman Michael Long has vowed any Republican candidate who supports the measure would lose his party's line. It's a potent threat for legislators who need multiple party lines to win re-election.
"It was getting closer for them to make a decision as to what they're going to do and asked the leaders up and down the state of New York to reinforce our position and remind the legislators that we passed a resolution that is the state executive committee did saying very clearly that anyone who supports destroying traditional marriage will in fact not get the conservative party endorsement," Long said.
It's a promise that Senate Republicans, who hold a 32-30 majority take seriously.
"But I don't think of it as a threat. I mean, I look at Mike Long. He stands on a certain core set of principles. He tells you, this is right, this wrong," said Senator John Flanagan.
But on the side supporting the measure are a host of advocacy groups, business leaders and unions. In Albany Tuesday, members of 1199 SEIU United Hospital Workers lobbied fence-setting legislators on the issue.
"We're meeting with several Democratic senators who voted no last year and we're meeting with several Republican senators, including Senator Skelos about coming on board this year," said SEIU Political Director Kevin Finnegan.
And the union's president is a leader in what in many ways is the political mirror of the Conservative Party, the Working Families Party, a left-leaning union-backed organization.
"I'm not a spokesperson for the Working Families Party, but as far as 1199 is concerned, we don't have permanent friends we have permanent interests. When you decide to vote in favor of something that helps our members we have a long memory," said George Gresham of 1199 SEIU.
The fate of same-sex marriage remains up in the air. By our tally, seven legislators remain undecided on the issue.