I ♥ NY

The New York Senate temporarily ceased being dysfunctional for just a moment to do the right thing and approve extending marriage to same-sex couples.*  Governor Andrew Cuomo has to sign the law, but he will.  Although marriages won’t take place until a month after the signing, the real fight has been done.  (And you can’t beat the symbolism; it happened just as New York Pride Weekend started.)

Cuomo deserves an extraordinary amount of the credit, perhaps even the lion’s share, which is pretty good for a man who, until a year or so before the election indicated that he did not support same-sex marriage.  Cuomo is actually the third consecutive Governor to support and fight for same-sex marriage.  What makes him different from his predecessors is that Cuomo is a real leader, unlike Eliot Spitzer who was a bull in a china shop and unlike David Patterson whose heart was in the right place but who did not have the right temperament to be Governor.  (Given how important the issue was to Patterson, I hope he is invited to the signing ceremony.  He deserves it.)   Credit must also go to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a very strong supporter even when the city lawyers had to argue against same-sex marriage.  And of course the legislators behind the bill, and the activists, and so on and so forth.  I imagine Empire State Pride Agenda’s coffers will be filled by donations starting tomorrow, unlike pretty much every other LGBT organization around the country.

Although New York will be the 6th state in which same-sex couples can wed, the events of tonight are more significant than what happened in every other states thus far except perhaps Massachusetts.  The first important (positive) milestone was the 2003 Goodridge decision in Massachusetts.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was very brave, and seven-and-a-half years on, it’s easy to forget how overwhelming the vitriol was that was directed at the Court and at the LGBT community.  I was there.  It got really bad.  Nevertheless, as time passed, it turned out that same-sex marriage was no big deal.  I doubt anyone in Massachusetts even thinks about it anymore, save for those who look back with pride.

Other states followed Massachusetts and equalized their marriage laws through the courts (California, Connecticut, Iowa), but that has always been a somewhat dangerous route because of cries of judicial fiat.  The next major milestone was when Vermont, which already had civil unions, equalized their marriage laws through the legislature, doing so over the veto of the then-Republican governor (and the fact that the legislature was able to do it show just shows how much liberal Democrats control Vermont.)  Two other states (New Hampshire and Maine) and DC followed suit.  Along the way there were the major setbacks in California and Maine followed by the other less major but still difficult setbacks in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Rhode Island.  It looked like the fight for equality had stalled when Rhode Island could only manage a civil union bill (which is still in doubt.)

But New York is monumental for a number of reasons.  First is just the sheer size of the state, and its overall importance (especially New York City) to both the country and the world.  Unlike California, there is no citizens’ initiative process.  This law is here to stay.  Second, the New York Court of Appeals (the highest court) found that the state constitution did not require marriage rights to be extended to same-sex couples, which meant that the legislature was the only option (always a dangerous prospect, in New York especially.)  Third, LGBT advocates had been trying to get same-sex marriage in New York for years, always failing at the Senate.  Finally, and most significantly, is that the New York Senate is controlled by Republicans.  Although the vast majority of tonight’s yea votes came from the state Democrats (all except one, the odious Ruben Diaz), it could not have passed without Republican votes.  This marks the first time that a Republican-controlled house voted in favor of same-sex marriage, and that reason alone is why New York is so important.  It is inevitable that same-sex marriage will become a reality.   Republicans no longer have unanimity on this issue, so it can no longer be a wedge issue.  The tide has irrevocably turned.

Moreover, this is going to put pressure on legislatures in other states, particularly those dominated by Democrats, specifically Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Washington, Oregon, and Illinois (and New Jersey when Governor Unpopular is replaced.)  Maine and California are also on the horizon when the dust clears.

This is not to say that the change will happen immediately, but the corner has been turned.  As New York goes, so goes the nation.  Tomorrow there will be a lavender dawn.

Footnote:

* See what I did there.  We’re not talking about a new right or a special right.  All we want are the same legal rights and recognitions given to straight couples.

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From The Sandro Rosell Handbook: How To Keep Cesc Fabregas At Arsenal

Unsurprisingly, Barcelona’s £27 million offer for Cesc Fabregas was rejected.  Keep in mind, this was £8.5 million less than last year’s 40 million Euros offer.  This was  Barcelona President Sandro Rosell’s take on Fabregas:

If last year we offered 40 million Euros, it is clear that this year his value is less. Since then there has been wear and tear and he is worth less.  Guardiola knows the values of players and Cesc’s is less than 40 million Euros. Barcelona will offer less and, if they don’t accept, then he won’t come.

On top of this, Rosell is once again making noise about Barcelona’s finances, which he has not spoken of since he blamed all the financial problems of the club on Joan Laporta.  (Not that it stopped Rosell from entering the race for Alexis Sanchez.  “Bienvenidos a Cataluña a mi amigo chileno!”)  There will apparently be one more offer before the negotiations inevitably fall apart.

Rosell (whom I am no fan of) is not exactly wrong.  Fabregas is older (relatively speaking), and he was injured again this past season, which makes some kind of injury just about every season he’s played first team football at Arsenal.  Although he is a star at Arsenal, for Barcelona he’s just insurance in case Xavi or Iniesta gets injured.  Even on Spain Fabregas cannot break onto the first team.  Thanks to free-spending Manchester City and Chelsea (and Liverpool for Andy Carroll), prices are super-inflated in the English game and now beyond.  40 million Euro is a hefty sum to pay for a bench warmer, and the memory of Zlatan Ibrahimovic still hovers.

On top of that, the presence of Fabregas might stunt the development of Thiago Alcântara or cause him to leave.  When rumors first starting appearing about Thiago’s exit, they were quashed fairly quickly.  First Thiago’s father Mazinho said no.  Then when Thiago indicated he might leave, he backtracked really quickly (probably at the club’s behest.)  While it is almost certain Bojan is going and pretty clear that Jeffren is following, the Thiago situation is very complicated, especially with a (better) younger brother also coming up through the youth academy ranks.

It seems fairly clear that Rosell does not particularly want Fabregas.  The statements alone are a pretty clear indication, but on top of them you have (1) the announcement of a relatively low transfer budget; and (2) the heavy pursuit of a high profile player with a higher than necessary price tag, and an owner who is exaggerating the player’s worth and pitting two wealthy clubs against each other to increase the price (regardless of what the player wants.)

On top of that, Fabregas is the closest thing Arsenal has to an on-the-pitch leader.  He’s not particularly good at it, but Arsenal really has no one else.  He is something of a talisman.  The only quality he lacks is being English (which is why Jack Wilshire is pimped so heavily.)  Fabregas is one of the last vestiges from the era when Arsenal were actually a legitimate contender instead of a last-minute choker.  The club is not going to let him go without getting major compensation in return, if for no other reason than the principle alone.

So why are Barcelona and Rosell even going through with the charade?  I cannot say for certain, but I suspect there are four interrelated ones, which boils down to everyone else wants the transfer.  First, the fans want him.  They see him as the “one that got away.”  Fabregas left La Masia before Barcelona could sign him to a contract precisely because he saw his future as a bench warmer to Xavi and Iniesta.  Barcelona got nothing out of it because Fabregas was too young to sign a contract.  Also, Arsenal continues to raid La Masia in this way, and the fans (and Rosell) are really pissed off about it.  Second, Guardiola wants Fabregas, and he’s been pretty open about that.  He want to groom Fabregas to take Xavi’s place.  Third, the Barcelona squad want Fabregas back.  His friends play at Barcelona, and they see him as seamlessly fitting into the system.  Finally, Fabregas’s insincere neutrality belies a desire to go back to Barcelona.  Barcelona his home and his club.  Guardiola was his idol growing up.  His friends play for Barcelona.  Furthermore, he is a top player, and top players want to win trophies–something that will no longer happen at Arsenal, at least not as long as Wenger is in charge.

I think that Rosell is trying to look like he is making an attempt to get Fabregas.  Sure it is clumsy and halfhearted, but he can go back and say, “at least I tried dammit!”  For what it’s worth, unless and until Fabregas says the magic words, “I want to go,” (or firmly states that he wants to stay) then this ridiculous dance between Barcelona and Arsenal will not be resolved.  Because Fabregas does not want to harm his popularity with the Arsenal fans (who I believe secretly wish he would go already), he is not forcing Arsenal’s hand.  However, he constantly leaves the door open for Barcelona, because he really does want to go.

So one can perhaps sympathize with Rosell.  He’s damned if he doesn’t get Cesc, but he’s damned if he does, because–at least according to the accountants he hired to make his predecessor look bad–Barcelona just doesn’t have that kind of money.  At least not for Cesc Fabregas.