Cuomo: Gay Marriage Is ‘Binary’ Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he’s “optimistic” that a gay marriage legalization bill would pass this year, but suggested he was less worried about when the measure was approved, but how it gets passed the Republican-controlled Senate.

“At this point it’s sort of binary. We’re talking, we are discussing these issues, but the question is will they pass or not or will they pass in the next six weeks. Quite frankly I’m less concerned about when in the next six weeks, but whether.”

Cuomo, who wants a legalization bill approved by June, was instrumental in putting together a coalition of advocacy groups, New Yorkers United for Marriage to lobby the Legislature on the issue.

Though the measure failed in the then-Democratic-led Senate in 2009, 38-24, Cuomo and the groups believe they can flip several “no” votes in both the Democratic and Republican camps. The GOP holds a 32-vote majority, but at least one Democrat, Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, is vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

But it is likely the Senate would need more than a 32-vote majority to approve the measure. With multiple legislators in swing districts, some many note want to be the final yes vote on the contentious issue.

Cuomo Reports Good Feedback On SUNY 2020

Legislators are liking what they hear on the SUNY 2020 proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference this morning.

The governor proposed expanding the economic development program known as UB2020 — originally only for the University of Buffalo — has morphed into a grant program for the university centers at Buffalo, Albany, Stony Brook and Binghamton.

“Many good comments — universally good,” Cuomo said. “It’s rare, but that’s what has happened so far. All good.”

The governor did not say which legislator complimented the proposal.

Skelos Still Hammering Assembly On Prop Tax Cap

Lawmakers may have been away from Albany for the past two weeks, but the talking points haven’t changed.

Appearing on WCNY’s The Capitol Press Room with Susan Arbetter, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos continued his calls for the Assembly to vote on the hard 2% property tax cap that the Governor proposed and the Senate has already passed – just like he did on the final week before the legislature adjourned back on April 13th.

Skelos stood firm on his belief that there didn’t need to be negotiations over the cap. Repeating his phrase that negotiating would lead to a watered down bill. He also insisted that the hard 2% cap would pass in the Assembly if they brought it up for a vote.

The Senate Majority Leader also called on the Governor to use his negotiating skills to convince Speaker Silver to bring the bill to the floor.

“What is important is that he gets the Speaker and his conference to put it out for a vote. There are 51 Republicans I know would vote for it, so we only need 25 or so Democrats to support it. I am sure it would pass. I would urge the Governor and Speaker to get it done.”

At the end of the interview, Skelos was also asked about same sex marriage. He says he expects to meet with his conference on the issue in the next couple of weeks, and let them decide which way they want to go on the issue.

Diaz To Hold Rally For ‘Traditional’ Marriage

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, one of the most vocal anti-gay marriage advocates in the Senate, plans to hold a rally for “traditional” marriage on May 15 — the same day as the annual AIDS Walk in New York City.

From Diaz’s statement:

Everyone should realize that we’re not hiring Ricky Martin or Elton John or Rosie Perez to attract people to our event. There won’t be any paid superstars or celebrities to draw crowds. Whoever joins us will do so because they support traditional marriage.

It’s important to know that whoever comes to this rally will be there because they support the growing movement in New York to protect marriage and to oppose proposals to redefine the definition of marriage to include homosexual marriage.

Diaz also knocked the critics of his rally, calling their comments “disgraceful lies” and said he has allocated $100,000 for AIDS victims.

“I will continue to support the war against AIDS, and I will vote to increase funds against AIDS,” said Diaz, a Pentecostal minister.

Later today, the Empire State Pride Agenda plans to hold some counter programing on the gay marriage issue, with about a dozen clergy members holding a news conference in support of the measure.

Gillibrand For Hochul

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her endorsement of Democratic NY-26 candidate Kathy Hochul this morning via an email to supporters that doubled as a fundraising pitch.

“I have some exciting news,” Gillirband wrote.

“In a few weeks there is a special election in New York’s 26th Congressional district and we have a strong Democratic woman running for the seat. Kathy Hochul is exactly the kind of dedicated fighter we need to challenge the GOP agenda and work for the people of New York.”

“And best of all, she has a great chance of taking over this Republican-held seat.”

“…Kathy has made a name for herself as someone who won’t back down.,” the senator continued. “She’s fought to ease the burdens of excessive fees and tolls for hard-working Americans and has worked to create a transitional home for victims of domestic violence. We need Kathy in the House so she can join the stand against the GOP’s extremist agenda.”

Gillibrand mentioned the Siena poll that showed Hochul trailing her GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, by just 5 percentage points. The senator deemed Corwin and independent Jack Davis, both of whom have loaned their respective campaigns $1 million to date, “deep-pocketed conservative self-funders who are spending whatever it takes to win.”

That poll has caused an uptick in interest in the NY-26 contest from national Democrats, although so far there’s no overt spending on the part of the DCCC for Hochul.

Gillibrand has long played up the fact that she’s a member of an elite minority in Congress: Working mothers. She has also been advocating for some time to get more women involved in politics.

Interestingly, Gillibrand’s endorsement of Hocul (albeit via email and not in person) comes one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who selected May 24 for the special election to replace former Rep. Chris Lee, took a pass on picking a favorite in the race.

Freedom To Marry: Waiting Too Long?

The pro-gay marriage group Freedom To Marry released a YouTube video today highlight a same-sex couple who have been in a relationship for 61 years, but have been unable to be married in New York.

“Richard and John are the quintessential New York couple. They met at Juilliard and have spent most of their lives together here,” said Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “They are still obviously so deeply in love after 61 years and yet after all those years of commitment, being there for one another through the ups and downs of life, they are still being denied the one thing they want most – the freedom to marry in New York. It is time to change that. After 61 years together, haven’t they waited long enough?”

The video comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a coalition of groups have been formed to push for gay marriage legalization this year. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage failed in the Senate, 38-24 in 2009, back when Democrats held the majority.

But the groups hope to flip several of the previous “no” votes — including GOP Sens. Jim Alesi of Monroe County, Greg Ball of the Hudson Valley and Roy McDonald of Saratoga and Democrats Shirely Huntely and Joe Addabbo of Queens.

Alesi told Politics on the Hudson on Monday that he had made up his mind on the issue, but refused to say how he would vote.

Senate Dems Go Broadway On ‘Rent’ Laws

Senate Democrats are putting out a web video today urging the extension of rent control laws in New York City, due to expire on June 15.

The video’s inspiration, appropriately enough, is from the musical “Rent” and is titled “525,600 Minutes.” The video stars Manhattan Democrats Dan Squadron, Adriano Espaillat and Liz Krueger.

Senate Democrats are also asking voters to sign a petition in favor of the rent regulations being extended and strengthened.

Espaillat, the sponsor of the Senate Democrats’ preferred rent laws measure, said in a statement that, “Over a million families in New York City, including nearly 79,000 in my district, would be devastated if we let the clock run out on regulations,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Housing Committee.”

The push comes after the Democratic-led Assembly approved a broad expansion of rent laws in New York City and parts of the metropolitan region. Senate Republican leaders have said they would vote to approve a continuation of the existing rent control laws, but would be unlikely to take up the Assembly version.

But Republicans have to play a careful game. One their last New York City senators, Martin Golden, is being eyed for a potential upset in his Brooklyn district.

Here And Now

The Obama administration is wrestling with whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s body and video of his burial at sea.

Tick-tock of a terrorist hunt. More here.

Officials photos from inside the situation room. It was tense in there.

The President will visit Ground Zero Thursday to honor the 9/11 victims. (It will be his fourth trip to the Big Apple in about a month).

Republicans – from former VP Dick Cheney to Donald Trump (?!) – praised Obama.

The cost of catching bin Laden? Half a trillion dollars and climbing.

Was Al Qaeda on the way out anyway?

Sen. Chuck Schumer praised Obama for holding back any desire to gloat.

NYC isn’t taking any chances with post-bin Laden death security, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Security has been heightened statewide.

For some 9/11 victims’ families, bin Laden’s death re-opened an old wound.

Rudy Giuliani once told President Bush he wanted to be the one to execute bin Laden.

Giuliani defended the Obama administration’s decision to hold Islamic burial rites for bin Laden.

“It’s going to add a great component to the remembrance of 9/11 in that we have been able to accomplish a critical piece of the war on terror by holding accountable the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks,” said Rep. Tom Reed.

Capital Region Muslims applauded the news.

More >

An Inside View Of The Situation Room

The White House’s official flickr stream posted this rather intense-looking photo of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his national security team monitoring the Special Forces mission that ultimately resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

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Accounts of how the mission went down, including the dramatic scuttling of a helicopter, can be found here and here.

Adams: Security Funds Should Go To Protection, Not Smoke Alarms

Queens Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Eric Adams, the ranking member of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, said the state should ensure it’s spending money on proper security projects, not “pet projects.”

“As state legislators, we must make ensure that our nuclear facilities are protected, our vulnerable locations are protected, our roadways are protected. We must make sure all our resources are going to make sure people are well prepared,” Adams said.

He added: “Money should go to protecting our home front. It shouldn’t go to pet projects, they shouldn’t go to buy smoke alarms.”

Adams was a member of the New York City Police Department on Sept. 11.

He also said in an interview that the country should continue to be vigilant in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death.

“I think we had a moment of exhale, but we realize that we know have to inhale,” Adams said. “The reality is this is bittersweet. But the father of hate may have left us, but clearly the children he birthed are still around.”