Will the Twitter Machine Seal the Deal for Marriage Equality in NY?

Throughout the day I’ve actively refreshed #NY4M on Twitter for updates on the status of the highly-anticipated vote.  A few hours ago Politico reported that undecided senator Greg Ball, potentially the vote to tip the scales in favor of passing marriage equality in NY, is asking Twitter and Facebook followers for an opinion on whether he should vote in support of the legislation. 

Today marks the last official day of the legislative session in Albany, through it appears the marriage equality vote will be not happen until later this week to the frustration of many.  As reported on Persephone, last Wednesday the act narrowly passed the Assembly and Republicans in the Senate conferenced heavily for several days last week as the bill stalled by one vote.  Over the weekend hundreds of protestors gathered in NYC to rally in support of the passage of the legislation urging those in support to contact the Senator Majority Leader Dean Skelos to urge a yes from undecided Republicans.  Ball’s message for guidance to his followers on Facebook and Twitter was the following: “Opening up the discussion! So, if you were me, how would you vote on gay marriage? Yes or No?”

A vote in support of the Marriage Equality Act from any of the remaining undecided Republican voters who hold the key for passing the legislation assures repercussions in upcoming elections from conservative voters.  In efforts to stem some of this backlash Republicans have stalled the bill stating a need for exemptions for religious groups to protect them from legal action  should they choose to deny gay people marriage-related goods and services.  Few see this call for further exemptions as legitimate, and instead see the matter as an excuse to hold up a vote on human rights legislation they would rather not be on record  supporting or denying.

Of note, where Obama stands on marriage equality seems to be shifting.  Over the weekend the New York Times reported President Obama’s shifting position on same-sex marriage noting the Gay Pride event he will be hosting on June 29th at the White House, as well as headlining at “Gala with the Gay Community” in NYC this week.  Growing national support for marriage equality almost certainly encourages these actions by the President to more openly support same-sex marriage.

As of now it seems the vote in the NY Senate over marriage equality legislation will linger until late this week.  While most of those who have responded to Ball’s question on Twitter have been in favor of passing marriage equality by a long shot, it seems the response has been 50/50 from those on Facebook. But do people really buy into this reaching out on social media as a legitimate political move to progress stalled legislation?

How social media will play out as this crucial battle field for gay rights in America unfolds this week remains to be seen.   I’m certainly going to continue refreshing Twitter with abandon and frustration, awaiting the long over-due vote I had hoped and wished would have passed during today’s last official day of NY’s legislative session.

By Jamie J. Hagen

Jamie J. Hagen lives in Brooklyn and is a Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and writer for The Line Campaign. Follow her on twitter @jamiejhagen and visit her personal website for more of her work.

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