GENDA To Go Before Judiciary Committee in New York June 8
Although the whip count, compiled by the AIDS advocacy group Housing Works, shows GENDA with majority support in the full chamber, only 11 sure votes are indicated within the 23-member Judiciary Committee, one shy of the tally required.
In light of the bill’s uncertain fate in Judiciary, advocates, led by the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), are focusing lobbying efforts on committee members in the hours left before it takes up the bill tomorrow morning.
One clearly promising signal is that the Judiciary Committee is acting at the behest of its chairman, John Sampson of Brooklyn, who is the leader of the majority Democratic Conference in the Senate. In fact, Sampson used an extraordinary parliamentary maneuver within his purview as conference leader to move the bill from Long Island Democrat Craig Johnson’s Investigation and Government Operations Committee, where it has been stalled all year, to Judiciary. (Johnson supports GENDA, but with the opposition there of Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr., of the Bronx, an implacable foe of LGBT rights, he was unable to steer the measure through his eight-member committee.)
Although it is said that Sampson would not bring GENDA to his Judiciary Committee if he was not confident that he has the votes needed to advance it, one recalls the shock of the gay marriage bill vote, which failed by an unexpectedly large margin.
On the record, Ross Levi, ESPA’s executive director, said, “It’s a good thing that GENDA is moving in committee. It’s also a good sign that the committee is headed by conference leader John Sampson.”
Housing Works spokesman David Thorpe has said that although he thinks the Judiciary vote will be a tight one, he is optimistic there are enough Yes votes for it to pass.
The only Democrat in the Senate who is a sure no —Diaz — sits on the committee. None of the three Republicans who have signaled they will vote are Judiciary members.
Two other Democrats, neither of them on Judiciary, remain undecided — Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Darrel Aubertine of Oswego County.
The bill has already been passed by the Assembly, and Governor David Paterson is a strong advocate of the measure.
If GENDA is approved in the Judiciary Committee, it must also go to the Codes Committee.
Advocates are pressing for a full Senate vote on GENDA prior to the Legislature’s adjournment at the end of June.