Friday, August 19, 2005

An Interesting Development

CNN is reporting, as is the New York Times, that former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld is planning to seek the Republican nomination for governorship of New York.

This is interesting from a purely-historical standpoint (as the article notes, he would be only the second person to ever have been governor of two states, following Sam Houston), but also because Weld has a very good record on gay rights. His opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, when he was running for one of the US Senate seats from Massachusetts, is widely believed to be the only reason John "I oppose gay marriage and think it's wrong" Kerry decided to vote against DOMA. Indeed, Weld's record was liberal enough that his nomination as ambassador to Mexico was blocked in the Senate in 1997 by angry conservative Republicans.

Currently, Weld is taking the tack that he supports gay marriage for Massachusetts because it is a correct interpretation of that state's constitution, but civil unions (and not gay marriage) for New York. He does support equal rights for gays otherwise, not unlike current governor George Pataki. Interestingly enough, his likely opponent, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, supposedly supports same-sex marriage, but has repeatedly argued that denying it is not a violation of equal protection or due process.

Personally, this would be a tough choice for me on the gay-rights issue. Spitzer's stance, in my opinion, is somewhat calculated, but is primarily due to the fact that the man is a damn good and honest lawyer. He knows what the law says, he may not agree with it, but he will follow it. Weld takes a similar tack, although I think he should express his support more forcefully. I think under either of them, gay rights would advance in New York State; the question is, are gay leaders willing to work with both?

I suppose we'll have to see how things shake out.

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