Andrew Cuomo Helps Coordinate Push For Gay Marriage

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a hands-on approach in the battle to pass a gay marriage bill.

The New York Times reports that Cuomo is committed to helping gay rights groups organize a campaign that, supporters hope, will succeed where others have failed.

Under the supervision of the governor's staff, the groups intend to raise more than $1 million for a media blitz, hire a powerful political consultant close to the Cuomo administration and deploy field organizers to the districts of more than a dozen key lawmakers to drum up support, according to interviews with those involved in the effort.

The Times contends that during 2009's unsuccessful effort, gay rights groups "sent conflicting messages, misjudged the opposition and won far fewer votes than they had predicted."

Cuomo wants to make sure that things run more smoothly this year.

In December of 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was defeated by a 24-38 vote in the state Senate. All Republicans and eight Democrats voted against the measure.

Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign told HuffPost there's never been a better opportunity to make marriage equality a reality.

"Public opinion has changed in the last year and a half," said Ellner, who is the senior strategist
for HRC's Campaign for New York Marriage. "There are many members of the Senate in both parties who will be standing up for equality when there is a vote."

Ellner pointed to national and statewide polling that suggests that Americans and New Yorkers in particular have never been more strongly in favor of gay marriage.

He also noted the successful repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Obama administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, as signs of national progress.

And then there's the immensely popular ally in Cuomo.

"The governor is enormously important to getting this done," Ellner said.