A third Republican state Assemblywoman from the North Country is now in favor of a bill that would allow same-sex marriage.
"In 2007, I voted against the same-sex marriage bill, although I was deeply moved by the testimony of many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle," said Assemblywoman Janet Duprey of Peru. "After the vote, I said that I would continue to study the issue, meet with constituents and keep an open mind."
Duprey said she has met with dozens of people, including religious leaders, homosexuals and their families, and read books and position papers on both sides of the issue. She announced Friday that she will vote for same-sex marriage legislation.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru
(Enterprise file photo)
"The legislation to be voted on will not force any religion to perform or recognize same-sex marriages," Duprey said. "This is not a religious issue - it is a civil rights issue. Our United States was founded on the principle of equal protection and rights for all, and I will cast my vote for the constitutional rights of same-sex couples."
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward of Willsboro was one of only four Assembly Republicans to vote for a similar bill in 2007, and she said she intends to vote for it again.
"It's a civil rights issue," Sayward said. "Being homosexual is not a life choice; it's the way you're born."
Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur, who is the floor leader for the Republicans now that former floor leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua is minority leader, also supports the bill and voted for it in 2007. Addie Russell, a Democratic Assemblywoman who represents the westernmost part of the North Country, supports the bill as well.
Sayward has a son who is gay, and her passionate speech on the Assembly floor in 2007 helped that house pass the bill, which the Senate then shut down. Sayward said she is sure this new bill will pass the Assembly but is not sure whether it would pass the Senate. A large majority of Democrats in both houses, and Gov. David Paterson, support the legislation; Sayward and Duprey are in the minority of their parties on this issue. However, while the Assembly is about two-thirds Democratic, Democrats only have a two-vote majority in the Senate, and several Senate Democrats have said they oppose it.
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, is opposed to the legislation, according to her spokesman, Dan Mac Entee.
"She believes that a marriage is between a man and a woman," Mac Entee said. "She also believes that a majority of New Yorkers don't support same-sex marriage at this time."
Mac Entee said Little could support some sort of "civil union" legislation that would give homosexual couples some of the legal rights of heterosexual married couples without calling it marriage.
"She'd certainly be open to looking at something like that," Mac Entee said.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.