ALBANY -- The head of the National Republican Committee under former President George W. Bush hit the Capitol today to press fence-sitting Republicans in the Senate to back gay marriage rights before ending their 2011 session in two weeks.
“I think it is very much consistent with both Republican interests and also Republican principles,’’ Ken Mehlman, who served as RNC boss from 2005 to 2007, said of gay marriage.
There are eight Senate Republicans who have said they are undecided on whether to legalize gay marriage, which has become one of the more visible battles in the closing days of the session as proponents and opponents square off in television ads, hallway lobbying at the Capitol and a blitz before the media.
Mehlman, a New York resident, last year publicly revealed he is gay. Legalizing gay marriage is believed to be eight votes short in the 62-member, GOP-led Senate. Opponents say it will also face a far harder time passing the Assembly than the last vote two years ago because of elections that have put more Republicans into the Democratic-led chamber; Democrats in the Assembly, though, insist it will pass if put to a vote, albeit by a closer margin than in 2009.
Mehlman said Republican political interests would be served because a majority of New Yorkers say in polls that they support the legal right for gays to marry. “In terms of Republican values and principles, if you think about it, a party that stands for freedom, a party that wants to promote more families and family values and a party that tries to live by the golden rule, it seems to me, out to be supportive of this issue,’’ he told reporters at the Capitol Monday.
-- Tom Precious