Oh my: Gay marriage voted down in ... New York; Update: 51% of NYers support gay marriage

Not the way I would have voted, but that’s democracy for you. Good enough for Barack Obama, good enough for New York!

The bill was defeated by a decisive margin of 38 to 24. The Democrats, who have a bare, one-seat majority, did not have enough votes to pass the bill without some Republican support, but not a single Republican senator voted for the measure…

In a debate that in many instances was cast in unusually personal tones, many senators delivered emotional speeches on the floor of the chamber, equating the struggle for gay rights to the civil rights movement or the battle women have waged for equality…

But State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx made an impassioned argument against same-sex marriage, describing his continued opposition as reflecting the broad consensus that marriage should be limited to a union between a man and woman. “Not only the evangelicals, not only the Jews, not only the Muslims, not only the Catholics, but also the people oppose it,” he said…

Unlike in Maine, however, New York does not have a referendum process that allows voters to overturn an act of the Legislature.

That boldfaced part is key. In California, legislators voted yes knowing that constituents who disagreed with them could register their displeasure in a referendum. [Update: Wrong. See below.] In New York, the only outlet for displeasure is to throw the bums out, which made the pressure on the senate more intense. As for why the final tally wasn’t close, I assume the same thing happened here as happened when the amnesty bill went down in flames two years ago: Once the voting started and it became clear that the numbers weren’t there, fencesitters started peeling off. It’s fascinating to think that even in NYS, there’d be eight Democratic state senators who think a no vote is safer for them than a yes. Good luck with fundraising next year, kids.

New York doesn’t even have civil unions, so expect that to be the next step to try to make amends. (Either that or a movement to, um, ban divorce.) The real significance of this, I think, is that with each new blue or bluish state that defeats a marriage initiative, it becomes marginally harder for the Supreme Court to do what I think it’ll probably do and agree with Ted Olson that straights-only marriage laws are a violation of equal protection. Kennedy is the swing vote, of course, and Kennedy has been sympathetic to federalist concerns in the past — albeit not when it comes to gays. But if even New York and California are unwilling to join the liberal consensus, maybe he’ll think twice. Or maybe it’ll have the opposite effect and encourage him to strike out in a “brave new consensus-forging direction” or whatever himself. You never know with Tony K!

Update: Like I said, good luck with fundraising next year:

According to a Marist College survey released Wednesday, 51 percent of people questioned said they favor legalizing gay marriage, with 42 percent opposed.

The poll’s release came just hours before the state Senate rejected the legislation, which had already passed the state Assembly. New York Gov. David Paterson said he would have immediately signed the bill if it had made it to his office…

The Marist survey indicates a partisan divide on the issue, with two-thirds of Democrats supporting gay marriage and a nearly equal amount of Republicans opposed. According to the poll there’s a geographic split as well, with 6 in 10 New York City voters supporting legalized same sex marriages, while voters in the suburbs and upstate are divided.

Even in NYC, it’s only 60/40? Manhattan broke 80/20 for Kerry in 2004, as I recall. Ah well. To comfort disappointed gay-marriage supporters, here’s the closet-emergence o’ the day from this morning’s Today show. What would Alex P. Keaton think?

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Update: Ah, a silly error on my part up top. California’s legislature never voted to legalize gay marriage; it was the state supreme court that did it. The basic point about relative pressure on the two states’ legislatures stands, but sorry for the mistake.