The case for historical inevitability took another hit on Wednesday as the New York State Senate rejected a bill to redefine traditional marriage by a wide margin, 38-24. In the days before the vote, and especially after the New York House voted for marriage redefinition by a margin of 89-52 on Wednesday, media reports like this one in the New York Observer suggested that the Democratic majority in the Senate would allow a vote only if they were confident it would pass.
Instead, eight Democrats joined all 30 Republicans in the chamber to reject the bill after a personal and emotional debate in which Martin Luther King and the history of civil rights were invoked on both sides. In the end, Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx rose to counter suggestions that traditional marriage enjoyed the support of only a handful of New Yorkers. “Not only the evangelicals, not only the Jews, not only the Muslims, not only the Catholics, but also the people oppose it,” Diaz stated as the roll call went forward.
Election Day 2009 undoubtedly played a role in the wide margin of defeat for the New York measure, as voters in Maine blocked a legislatively approved bill to redefine marriage, and pro-traditional marriage governors were elected in Virginia and New Jersey. Perhaps just as significantly and closer to home, this past Monday Tom Suozzi, described as a rising star in New York Democratic politics, officially lost his re-election bid to Republican Edward Mangano. This past summer Suozzi had drawn public attention for his embrace of marriage redefinition in the Empire State.
Suozzi cited high property taxes as the reason for his defeat, but clearly recent events have reinforced the evidence that the politics of the marriage issue are not following some Hegelian axis.