Skip to main content
ABC News
Whip Count: Gay Marriage Faces Uphill Odds in New York Senate

Although New York’s State Assembly today approved a bill to legalize gay marriage by a 89-52 margin, the measure faces longer odds in the State Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 32-30 majority and where several prominent Democrats are likely to oppose the measure.

Governor David Paterson’s bill requires 32 votes to pass — a 31-31 tie would ordinarily be broken by New York’s Lieutenant Governor, but New York does not currently have a Lieutenant Governor because Paterson ascended from that position to replace Elliot Spitzer.

The bill, S.4401, has 19 sponsors, all Democrats. A 20th Democrat, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, is also committed to supporting the measure.

Beyond that, however, things get a bit dicey for the Democrats. Based on recent public statements and press accounts, we count 5 Democrats — Shirley Huntley of Queens and George Onorato of Queens, Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, Darrel Aubertine of Cape Vincent, and William Stachowski of Buffalo — as definitively being opposed to the measure. We also count 7 Democrats as undecided, one of whom — David Valesky of Oneida — we characterize as leaning toward a no vote.

On the other hand, while no Republican has publicly come out in favor of the bill, we have 9 Republicans who we characterize as undecided (although several are thought to be leaning no). A majority of these Republicans are from Long Island, a swing region in New York state politics.

The most plausible path to 32 votes involves picking up the 20 definite yes votes, plus the 5 Democrats and 7 Republicans that we characterize as truly undecided or leaning yes. Although a clean sweep of these votes would seem unlikely, there are some backup options in the form of 1 Democrat and 4 Republicans who we describe as leaning — but not definitively — against the bill. (Note: we characterize Republicans who sponsored S.2056, a 2006 bill that sought to ban gay marriage in New York state, as definite ‘no’ votes unless there is more recent information to suggest they have moderated their position).

Democrats may take some solace in the fact that, when gay marriage bills were approved by legislatures in states like Maine and Vermont, they tended to pass with slightly more votes than anticipated. Still, based on the most recently available information, I would guess that their odds of securing 32 votes are not better than about one in three.

Our ‘whip count’ of the 62 State Senators follows below.

YES (20)
7. Craig Johnson, D-Long Island (Port Washington) S.4401 sponsor
14. Malcolm Smith, D-NYC (St. Albans) link
16. Toby Ann Stavisky, D-NYC (Flushing) S.4401 sponsor
17. Martin Malave Dilan, D-NYC (Bushwick) S.4401 sponsor
18. Velmanette Montgomery, D-NYC (Brooklyn) S.4401 sponsor
20. Eric Adams, D-NYC (Brooklyn) S.4401 sponsor
21. Kevin Parker, D-NYC (Brooklyn) S.4401 sponsor
23. Diane Savino, D-NYC (Staten Island) S.4401 sponsor
25. Dan Squadron, D-NYC (Brooklyn) S.4401 sponsor
26. Liz Krueger, D-NYC (New York) S.4401 sponsor
28. Jose M. Serrano, D-NYC (Spanish Harlem) S.4401 sponsor
29. Thomas Duane, D-NYC (New York) S.4401 sponsor
30. Bill Perkins, D-NYC (Harlem) S.4401 sponsor
31. Eric Schneiderman, D-NYC (Washington Heights) S.4401 sponsor
33. Pedro Espada, D-NYC (Bedford Park) S.4401 sponsor
34. Jeffrey Klein, D-NYC (Throgs Neck) S.4401 sponsor
35. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester (Yonkers) S.4401 sponsor
37. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Westchester (Mamaroneck) S.4401 sponsor
46. Neil Breslin, D-Upstate (Albany) S.4401 sponsor
60. Antoine Thompson, D-Upstate (Buffalo) S.4401 sponsor

55. James Alesi, R-Upstate (East Rochester) link

1. Kenneth LaValle, R-Long Island (Port Jefferson) link
2. John J. Flanagan, R-Long Island (East Northport) link
3. Brian X. Foley, D-Long Island (Blue Point) link
4. Owen H. Johnson, R-Long Island (West Babylon) link
8. Charles Fuschillo, R-Long Island (Merrick) link
13. Hiram Monserrate, D-NYC (Jackson Heights) link
15. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., D-NYC (Ozone Park) link
19. John Sampson, D-NYC (Brooklyn) link
27. Carl Kruger, D-NYC (Brooklyn) link
36. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Westchester (Williamsbridge) link
40. Vincent Leibell, R-Westchester (Patterson) link

6. Kemp Hannon, R-Long Island (Garden City) link
24. Andrew Lanza, R-NYC (Staten Island) link
45. Betty Little, R-Upstate (Queensbury) (conflicting reports suggest opposition and that she’s ‘within reach’)
49. David Valesky, D-Upstate (Oneida) (officially undecided; constituent e-mail hints at opposition)
57. Catharine Young, R-Upstate (Olean) link

NO (25)
5. Carl Marcellino, R-Long Island (Syosset) link
9. Dean Skelos, R-Long Island (Rockville Centre) link
10. Shirley Huntley, D-NYC (Jamaica) link
11. Frank Padavan, R-NYC (Bellerose) S.2056 sponsor
12. George Onorato, D-NYC (Astoria) link
22. Martin Golden, R-NYC (Bay Ridge) S.2056 sponsor
32. Rubén Díaz, D-NYC (Soundview) link
38. Thomas Morahan, R-Westchester (Clarkstown) link
39. Bill Larkin, R-Westchester (New Windsor) S.2056 sponsor
41. Stephen Saland, R-Westchester (Poughkeepsie) link
42. John Bonacic, R-Westchester (Mount Hope) S.2056 sponsor
43. Roy McDonald, R-Upstate (Wilton) link
44. Hugh Farley, R-Upstate (Schenectady) S.2056 sponsor
47. Joseph Griffo, R-Upstate (Rome) link
48. Darrel Aubertine, D-Upstate (Cape Vincent) link
50. John DeFrancisco, R-Upstate (Syracuse) S.2056 sponsor
51. James Seward, R-Upstate (Milford) S.2056 sponsor
52. Thomas W. Libous, R-Upstate (Binghamton) S.2056 sponsor
53. George H. Winner, Jr., R-Upstate (Elmira) link
54. Michael Nozzolio, R-Upstate (Fayette) S.2056 sponsor
56. Joseph Robach, R-Upstate (Greece) link
58. William Stachowski, D-Upstate (Hamburg) link
59. Dale Volker, R-Upstate (Depew) S.2056 sponsor
61. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Upstate (Clarence) link
62. George Maziarz, R-Upstate (Newfane) S.2056 sponsor

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.