How does it feel? Any pangs of regret?
On Friday, the governor of New York signed a marriage equality bill, hours after it was passed by the legislature. It's being called a monumental historic victory and is in the news all around the world. The suspense leading up to it built for weeks, ending in a cliffhanger finish that rivaled your biggest Hollywood blockbusters. New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been called a true hero, and is even being mentioned as 2016 presidential material. And he's not even a showy guy. Just imagine what you could have done with this in a state twice the size of New York!
But what Andrew Cuomo signed was something that you vetoed... twice.
To put it bluntly: where you cowered, Cuomo led.
There is a lot of credit to go around in New York. It's going to the steadfast governor who confidently rallied support from a variety of constituencies, to admired figures in culture and sports who took a stand for equality, to the New York City mayor who articulated why marriage equality would be good for the state and for business, to the activist groups that fought for years to change the law, and to thousands of individuals who never stopped pushing for what was right.
And it was not a partisan victory. Members of New York's Republican-majority Senate spent many weeks deliberating, listening seriously to a wide range of opinions. In a demonstration of courageous leadership, some senators who had previously voted and campaigned against marriage equality changed their minds and their votes, deciding that it was simply the right the thing to do. They took a politically risky but principled vote. It is said that they will be remembered in history.
You will be remembered, too, but far differently. You say you are for equal rights but when it came time to act on your words, you stopped equality in its tracks.
And your two vetoes happened before we even knew just how non-traditional your own marriage was. Was the second veto at least a little harder to sign?
When you vetoed marriage equality for millions of Californians, you said you thought the issue should be decided in the courts. So that's where we are now. Tens of millions of dollars have been raised and spent by both sides of the Proposition 8 lawsuit. Millions more will be spent by both sides in court. And Californians will wait years for a decision from the Supreme Court, most likely a Court with no Californians on it. Meanwhile, same-sex couples in New York will begin marrying in less than a month.
It has to be frustrating when your disapproval ratings of 75% are almost the same as Cuomo's record approval ratings. But it must have been worth it. I guess giving in to right-wing demands and twice vetoing marriage equality was the price we had to pay for your legacy of reformed government, balanced state budgets, and a booming California economy. Oh, wait... never mind.
Michael B. Keegan
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