Rimmerman on Same-Sex Marriage Defeat – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Rimmerman on Same-Sex Marriage Defeat

Craig Rimmerman, professor of public policy studies and political science, was recently quoted in the Finger Lakes Times for an article about the defeat of the state Senate bill that would have made same-sex marriage legal.

“That’s a very disappointing vote, and it’s definitely a setback for the same-sex marriage forces in New York state, as well as the country at large,” the article quotes Rimmerman, adding, “But by no means does this suggest the fight is over.”

It goes on to note Rimmerman expects a new generation of voters to eventually make same-sex marriage legal. “Many young people of my students’ age are supportive of same-sex marriage, and they’re eventually going to be in positions of power where they’re hopefully going to help bring about change,” he said.

The full article follows.


Finger Lakes Times
Despite same-sex marriage defeat, supporters see hope
Some Democrats also opposed the bill

Sean McCracken • December 6, 2009

Local gay rights activists are recoiling from the 24-38 defeat of a state Senate bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage.

“That’s a very disappointing vote, and it’s definitely a setback for the same-sex marriage forces in New York state, as well as the country at large,” said Craig Rimmerman, professor of public policy studies and political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “But by no means does this suggest the fight is over.”

Rimmerman believes it’s only a matter of time before gay rights groups are victorious because of a generation gap in opinions.

“Many young people of my students’ age are supportive of same-sex marriage, and they’re eventually going to be in positions of power where they’re hopefully going to help bring about change,” Rimmerman said.

Maureen Owens of Seneca Falls shared Rimmerman’s disappointment and ultimate hope.

“I’m going to keep optimistic that we’ll get there eventually. It’s a slow battle,” said Owens. “The country and the planet is going in that direction, but it just doesn’t happen as quickly as we’d like. And I am discouraged and really disappointed about it.”

The margin of defeat was created mainly by the fact that a group of Democrats decided to oppose the legislation, while not a single Republican Senator defected. Sen. George Winner, R-53 of Corning, was among those who voted no.

“I think my vote reflected the overwhelming decision of the majority of the constituents that I represent,” Winner said. “While I’m sensitive to the issue of affording civil rights to same-sex couples, I think that the vast majority of my constituents didn’t think marriage was a status that should be conferred on them.”

The argument was opposed during debate by senators like Pedro Espada Jr., D-33 of the Bronx, who supported the bill despite believing that the vote would fail if taken in his district.

Some commentators noted an unusually high amount of debate on the bill, and Winner said it was rare for a bill to get in front of the body with that amount of uncertainty about its fate.

“It’s relatively unusual for a bill to get to the floor when they aren’t sure of its passage, and there were a lot of uncommitted members on this particular issue,” Winner said. “There were some other forces at play with regard to promises leaders have made to advocacy groups. … There were some external political forces as far as titular heads of the gay movement, so to speak, pulling strings behind the scenes.”

Still, he wasn’t surprised at the outcome, based on what he was hearing from others in the Senate over the past couple of months.

“I think the circumstances in the states of California and Maine were a wake-up call to New York politicians as to whether or not they were being reflective of their constituents,” Winner said.

State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, R-54 of Fayette, who also voted no on the bill did not respond in time for this story.

Greg Barnard, who works in Geneva, thinks that even getting the bill to a vote was a step forward.

“I still think a lot of people don’t talk about it or understand it,” said Barnard. “I wouldn’t want to call it a victory. It’s a disappointment for anyone in a relationship like that, but I think [it will become more likely] as time goes on and people can read more about it. People still have a stereotypical thought of what it is and not the reality that everyone should be equal.”