By Leah Finnegan
Had the New York Senate passed a landmark bill to allow same-sex marriage Tuesday, Brooklyn couple Mark Nayden and Richard Kennedy might have finally made plans to legalize their union. Instead, the bill was shelved and the partners, together for 19 years, will have to wait – not that they were surprised by this outcome.
“It’s going to take time. I don’t think disappointed is the right word. I’m realistic,” Nayden said at the popular Park Slope bar Excelsior, which he owns with Kennedy.
“Legal rights should be a given,” Kennedy added. “I just wish it was over.”
Still, Nayden retains hope that more time will positively affect the bill’s chance of passing. “I’d rather them do it properly, so if it takes a little longer that’s okay,” he said. “I don’t want a situation like we had in Maine.” Earlier this month, a similar referendum in Maine was heralded with gusto by lawmakers and gay rights groups, only to fail by a significant margin when it came to a popular vote.
Gov. David A. Paterson put the bill on the agenda during special sessions Monday and Tuesday but a vote was delayed due to extended deliberation over budget cuts. Sources said there was not enough support in the Senate to bring the bill to the floor. Paterson has pledged that it will be voted on before the end of the year, and as soon as next week.
Todd Erickson, a 32-year-old environmental sculptor, said gay men could use more time to define their relationships and strengthen the force behind the bill. “Many gay men are still not quite clear with what it means to have a life partner,” he said. “When more gay people are wanting to get married, the political movement will grow.”
Erickson does not see the value in a political sanction for same-sex marriage. “The politics are not going to make it more real,” he said. “They’re not going to make it happen for us in a way that it needs to happen for us.”
The momentum behind the bill in Albany remains cautiously strong. Alan Van Capelle, Director of Empire State Pride Agenda, the leading advocacy group for the bill, stood behind Paterson during a press conference yesterday as the governor promised to make the bill a top priority next week. Van Capelle said that he was confident that Paterson and Democratic senators will honor the commitment they made to passing the bill this year.
But Kensington resident David Ayres, 35, is not so optimistic about an imminent resolution. “I think like a bunch of sheep, everyone sits,” he said. “It’s a very typical American cycle.”