Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went to Albany to ask that lawmakers make it possible for gay couples to marry in New York State. Naturally, advocates of same-sex marriage applauded him. They might just as easily have said, “Uh, oh.”
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
Not that the mayor said anything to displease them, with one possible exception that we’ll get to in a moment. It’s just that having Mr. Bloomberg lobby in Albany for your cause is a little like asking someone to pray for rain during a severe drought. It can’t hurt. But there is no solid proof that it does much good.
The mayor’s record for winning friends and influencing enemies in the state capital is almost as dismal as the Yankees’ won-lost percentage of late. He scored a spectacular victory early in his tenure, persuading Albany to give him direct control of the city’s school system. Since then, the road for him has been long and hard.
Remember that planned stadium on the West Side of Manhattan? Or East River bridge tolls and congestion pricing? Or Caroline Kennedy as a successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the United States Senate, adjustments to ease the city’s pension burden and changes in the rules for laying off teachers? All were major issues that had Mr. Bloomberg putting his shoulder to the wheel, only to have the Legislature yank the cart out from under him. Why same-sex marriage should be any different seems fair to ask.
Albany Democrats, as a group, don’t much care for him, if only because he spends a bundle trying to defeat them. In last fall’s State Senate elections alone, he was reported to have donated $900,000 to Republican candidates. But even those gifts often turn into a case of unrequited fiscal love. Republicans, too, don’t always give Mr. Bloomberg what he wants, no matter how much cash he throws at them.
Nonetheless, on Monday, the mayor did what he thought was right. He dutifully trooped to Albany in the company of the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, who is a lesbian. He met with half a dozen Republican senators viewed as potentially flexible on same-sex marriage and perhaps willing to shift the tide in the Republican-dominated Senate, to match the Democratic-controlled Assembly. This was a moral imperative, Mr. Bloomberg said, and the senators should put themselves on “the right side of history.”
He received no commitments of support. But for the most part he wasn’t turned down flat, either. As a sweetener, the mayor promised to campaign for any Republican senator who voted for gay marriage, regardless of the lawmaker’s position on any other issue. But his pledge might not make every Republican swoon. A Bloomberg political blessing isn’t quite as golden as a Bloomberg bank book. In 2008, he endorsed six Republican candidates for the State Senate. Four of them lost.
And that carrot of promised support was conspicuously unaccompanied by a countervailing stick. Would the billionaire mayor snap his wallet shut to anyone voting against his wishes? Not so fast.
“The real world is, you cannot pick one issue and say it’s all or nothing,” the mayor said. That response hardly thrilled allies like Senator Thomas K. Duane, a Manhattan Democrat, who is gay. “I think it’s sad that he’s not making marriage a litmus test for that kind of enormous financial support,” Mr. Duane told NY1.
In short, there’s no reason to assume that Mr. Bloomberg’s latest journey to Albany will produce better results for him than some of his earlier misadventures did. Then again, you never know. It does rain eventually. With or without prayer, droughts do end.
For full local Times coverage, including Condé Nast’s estimated $2 billion plan to lease a million square feet at 1 World Trade Center, see the N.Y./Region section.
Here’s what City Room is reading in other papers and blogs this morning:
The hotel maid that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of forcing to perform oral sex lives in an apartment that a nonprofit leases to house people with HIV. [New York Post]
The Justice Department plans to appoint a New York lawyer known as the “Queen of Torts” to run the new $2.8 billion fund for ailing Ground Zero workers. [Wall Street Journal]
Twenty-two people were injured, none life-threateningly, when an elevator dropped three stories in Chelsea this morning. [NBC New York]
Four teenagers from the elite and pricey St. Ann’s School have been arrested for setting fire to an Brooklyn elementary school playground when a flaming-slide stunt they hoped to film went awry. [Daily News]
Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries has introduced a bill that would end arrests for open possession of small amounts of marijuana. [Prospect Heights Patch]
The police are backing off their “zero-tolerance” policy for bicycling infractions in Central Park. [DNA Info]
Historic ornamental urns sawed off Upper West Side building, angering residents. [DNA Info]
An extended temporary-asylum policy offers hope to Haitians displaced by last year’s earthquake. [Daily News]
Meet the Gowanus Canal muskrat. [New York Post]
Identity thief who bought toilet with stolen credit cards arrested by officers who noted gleaming new commode in his Harlem apartment. [New York Post]
Judicial slap for a fiscal watchdog: a judge calls Comptroller John Liu’s formula for setting pay rates for movers used by the city “arguably absurd” in its slant in favor of unions. [New York Post]
Participant in women’s target-practice outing in Chelsea finds shooting a rifle “natural and organic.” [New York Post]