Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I don't usually do politics here -- let alone politics of a regional nature -- but it looks like today's special election for a vacant New York State Senate seat is flipping the district from Republican to Democrat. Which means that a 40-plus-year Republican hold on the State Senate is down to one seat in the 62-member body. (Democratic Lieutenant Governor David Paterson would vote in the case of a 31-31 Senate tie.)

Now, that's a good sign for one big reason. First, a Democratic Senate could make life far easier for gay New Yorkers. This is no slam dunk, of course... some of those Senate Democrats are somewhat conservative, and all of them are damned pragmatic. Still, it is probable that gay rights bills -- which in recent years have stalled in the legislature, largely because of the Senate -- will start to advance, especially if some Republican allies feel emboldened (like they did in the State Assembly) to vote their conscience, instead of following the party line to ruin.

However, even if the Democrats pick up this North County seat, it's not over. There is always that 31st seat to capture, not to mention the 32nd... 33rd... For reasons I both loath and appreciate, government was not designed to move quickly. All the more reason for my (formerly fellow) New Yorkers to make sure that a bunch of very nice people whose heads are unfortunately trapped in the 1930s retire after this November's elections.

As someone who spent more than his fair share of time in Albany, I don't expect the right thing to happen overnight, and I have learned not to be discouraged in the face of legislative adversity, because there is always the next Session. But there's realistic, and there's negligent.

And negligent is not going out to vote in November to do what we can to put this to rest.