Iva Deutchman, professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Daily Messenger for an article about Gov. David Paterson’s recent urging of lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The article features the views of college students, legislators and Deutchman in regards to whether or not the State should legalize gay marriage and whether or not it is likely to. In Deutchman’s opinion, it was more a matter of whether the State is able to.
“The state legislature doesn’t do anything,” she is quoted. “That’s the big thing. They don’t do anything. These clowns probably could not get it together to pass a law thanking veterans for serving in the army.”
While the article quotes State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, as saying the issue boils down to: “What do the people of the state want?” Deutchman says it isn’t an issue of red state or blue state. “Whether you’re in a blue state, a purple state or a red state, if you don’t have a job, that is your big issue,” she is quoted.
The article continues, “People aren’t going to wake up in the morning cursing the governor for pushing to legalize gay marriage,” she said. “They’re going to wake up cursing him because they’re out of a job. People aren’t stupid. Besides, this region isn’t nearly as conservative as it used to be.”
Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. She is a professor of 20 plus years who has worked on two continents (Australia and North America). She has a long list of publications in major journals, the latest of which are “Fundamentalist Christians, Raunch Culture and Post-industrial Capitalism,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Summer 2008, and “Five Factions, Two Parties: Caucus Membership in the House of Representatives, 1994- 2002,” Congress and the Presidency, 36:62-84, 2009 (with colleague DeWayne Lucas).
The full text with additional comment from Deutchman follows.
Gay marriage: Tough sell in a red district
Philip Anselmo • staff writer • November 14, 2009
Canandaigua, N.Y. –
LAW: One state legislator says his constituents don’t want the government to legalize same-sex marriage.
Finger Lakes Community College students Ashlela Thomas and Emma Barry say it “just makes sense” for the state – and the nation – to legalize gay marriage.
“It’s basically a common-sense issue,” said Barry, 22. “There are a lot of people around here who support it, especially in Rochester. People will eventually agree that it’s fair, even if they don’t fully agree with it.”
Gov. David Paterson last Monday urged lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, calling it “an issue that touches on the very core of our citizenship.”
In a rare midyear address to a joint session of the Legislature, the Democrat singled out his gay-marriage proposal in a lengthy agenda for today’s extraordinary session, which was devoted to addressing the state’s $3.2 billion budget deficit.
Thomas and Barry head up the college club Students for Tolerance and Respect (STAR), which promotes gay-straight alliance. Basically, explains Thomas, the club’s president, they help “other kids” transition from the high school environment to college and “to see what else is out there.”
“We’re a support group for folks who are different,” said Barry, the club’s vice president.
They try to be “down to earth,” and they help convert the skeptics and open up the shy ones, and they do it through everything from bake sales to drag shows, said Thomas, 20.
“It helps people to feel more at ease,” said Barry. “We try to be really welcoming.”
Unfortunately, their cause isn’t always appreciated. A couple of weeks ago, posters designed by Barry and put up around the college to promote the STAR club were vandalized. Someone had scrawled “supposedly anti-gay” Bible verses on them, she said. Barry said she made posters for the campus Democrats, as well, which she put up beside the STAR posters, but they were left alone.
The episode wasn’t Barry’s first confrontation with intolerance. While she was a student at Webster Thomas High School, she tried to institute a club for gay-straight alliance, but she met with some resistance. She passed a petition in support of the group, but the school administration never yielded – at least, not until after she graduated, when the club was finally recognized, she said.
“It would be spectacular to have the same rights as heterosexuals,” said Thomas. “It doesn’t seem equal, otherwise.”
Thomas has been with the club for three years, Barry for two years. Neither of them have had a problem with vandalism before. They hope not to have a problem with it again. For the most part, they said, the campus seems a tolerant environment. Both feel there is enough support in the region for their cause.
Making it law
State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said the issue boils down to: “What do the people of the state want?” According to the polls he has seen, the majority of state residents “are not in favor of same-sex marriage becoming law,” he said. Within his particular constituency – which spans five counties, including Ontario – some 75 percent of people said they oppose it, according to a survey he sent out to area residents.
“Obviously, one of the things I do on a regular basis is get input from the district, and the people in my district are overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriage,” said Kolb.
Kolb said he shares the view of his constituency that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Despite the seeming opposition, however, the bill to legalize same-sex marriage was passed by the state Assembly. It has since stalled, waiting for a vote in the Senate.
“Even though the bill was passed in the state Assembly, if the Senate does not take it up, nothing happens,” he said.
State Sen. Mike Nozzolio, R-Fayette, did not return a call for comment.
Kolb said it has nothing to do with red-state-versus-blue-state political divides. “It’s about the constituents you represent,” he said.
Iva Deutchman is a professor of political science at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. She said the state legislature will not pass a law legalizing same-sex marriages – not because of political opposition, but because lawmakers simply don’t get any actual business done in Albany.
“The state legislature doesn’t do anything,” she said. “That’s the big thing. They don’t do anything. These clowns probably could not get it together to pass a law thanking veterans for serving in the army.”
Deutchman also thinks the issue is not one of red state versus blue state: It’s a matter of priorities.
“Whether you’re in a blue state, a purple state or a red state, if you don’t have a job, that is your big issue,” she said.
People aren’t going to wake up in the morning cursing the governor for pushing to legalize gay marriage, she said. They’re going to wake up cursing him because they’re out of a job. “People aren’t stupid,” she said. Besides, this region isn’t nearly as conservative as it used to be.
Although, she said, “If it were anybody other than Governor (David) Paterson” who was pushing for the bill to pass the state Senate, “I would probably say, ‘Yes.’ But his incompetence and inability is something to which monuments should be erected.”
Even more than that, she said, “I don’t think gay rights has the resonance with young people that it does with older people.”
“If you look into the future, I think it’s going to become a non-issue,” she said. “Younger people are incredibly tolerant regardless of how they define themselves. That’s a huge change. As you look into the future, gay marriage is going to happen.”