Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gay Marriage Debate in the NY State Assembly

The NY Times reports on a personal and intense debate. Amongst the highlights:-

Teresa R. Sayward did not hesitate when she rose from her seat on Tuesday night to address her colleagues in the State Assembly. An observant Catholic from a small, conservative upstate town, she had rarely shared the story of her son, Glenn, 42, and his struggle to come to terms with his gay identity decades ago.

But she said the occasion — a chance to make New York the second state in the country to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage — called for a highly personal approach.

“We would spend long nights crying together and talking,” she told a full house of hushed lawmakers. “And one night I said to him, ‘You have to be what you are; you can’t be what people think you should be.’ ”

Ms. Sayward received resounding applause, and the bill later passed, 85-61. But in the Senate, where Joseph L. Bruno, the majority leader, opposes the bill, it is not expected to come to the floor.

Supporters of the bill had no illusions about its ultimate fate. But the Assembly chamber, usually abuzz with the white noise of Statehouse gossip and last-minute deal-making, stood silent on Tuesday night as members embarked on a three-hour debate that included tearful tales of family struggles and a gay-marriage proposal via cellphone.

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