Friday, June 24, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage Soon Legal in NY

This is a great civil rights victory and I suspect California is not going to be far behind in getting this done (through the courts and at the ballot box). And, of course, the substantive policy change is what really matters most.

But, since this is a site focused on politics, let's take a moment to think about the politics of the NY vote. Andrew Cuomo is a big, big winner in all of this. This happened because of his dogged determination to get it done and he made it happen by working with the handful of Republican state senators he needed to get on board. In a previous post, I commented on Cuomo's very high approval rating despite the fact that most governors (from either party) are not very popular right now. Cuomo is going to be discussed as a 2016 presidential contender and this is going to accelerate that kind of talk.

Want to identify a loser in all this? How about Mitt Romney? New York is not a bellweather state nationally so you might think this does not tell us much that is useful about the policy issue nationally or about where the nation is headed nationally. But this bill doesn't pass in NY without the support of some Republican legislators from Republican districts. Those Republicans that vote for this legislation are looking at where the independent voters in their districts are headed and they know that it is not just right to be for the bill but it is good politics. Now, cut to a picture of Mitt Romney. Whatever Romney's real, private thoughts on same-sex marriage, Romney knows he cannot win the Republican nomination without being opposed to same-sex marriage. So, he will tow the party line on this issue. When the general election rolls around, taking that position will help Romney in the key swing states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah. But it will not help him in Colorado or in Virginia or in Wisconsin or in Minnesota. All of these are states Obama won in 2008 but Colorado and Virginia in particular are states the Republicans need to win back to defeat Obama in 2012. As independents rapidly move towards approving of same-sex marriage, absolutist positions like the one Romney is going to have to take are not going to be winning positions.

UPDATE: And now it is done. Here is Andrew Cuomo's speech after the vote. Skip to the 2:50 minute mark and you can see the presidential campaign roll out before your eyes.

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