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May 10, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Is usually what it is worth, but that hasn’t stopped me from offering.
There is a gay marriage bill before the State Legislature that will easily pass the Assembly but faces a more problematic future is the Senate. That brings me to our local State Senator, the Honorable Catherine M. Young. Senator Young should vote in favor of the gay marriage bill.
Senator Young represents a more Conservative District than downstate districts and conventional wisdom holds that she will vote against the measure. However, on a personal level and like many Americans, Senator Young probably is ambivalent on the issue. She would receive criticism for her vote from the Conservative Party but like the late Senator Jess Present, Senator Young has clearly established her bona fides as a thoughtful Republican with sufficient gravitas to tower above the opposition.
The Senator rose from the ranks; she served in the Cattaraugus County Legislature as Majority Whip and served in the State Assembly from 1999 until 2005 when she was elected to the New York State Senate.  Senator Young has developed her political skills to the point where she won important leadership positions over more senior rivals in the bare knuckle fist fight that is the Republican caucus in Albany. She was elevated by her party to the position of Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore, a position responsible for all the heavy lifting to advance the Republican legislative agenda in the Senate.
There is no question that Senator Young would withstand a pro gay marriage vote, but there are other purely pragmatic, political reasons for Senator Young to vote in favor of the bill.  Her gay marriage vote would propel her to state wide prominence and instantly make her a formidable political leader—one to be reckoned with in New York’s Republican Party and her star would be bright enough to catch the attention of the National Party.
Republicans lost control of the State Senate and nationally Republicans need to untangle themselves from the last eight years    With a pro gay marriage vote under her belt Senator Young is exactly what the National Republican Committee is desperately searching for; a conservative Republican who is unafraid of political moderation and a progressive vote.
Consider this:  Sara Palin lacked practical political experience. True, she served on the Wasilla City Council which was about as political as the PTA and it was only the convergence of circumstance and chance that she won Alaska’s Republican Primary for Governor. When Governor Palin became the surprise choice for Senator John McCain’s running mate she was politically if not intellectually unprepared for that role and proved incapable of dealing with the national press.
Senator Young has been tempered by years of legislative experience and has demonstrated that she is capable of playing on a bigger stage; talents that would have benefited Sara Palin. The Senator might progress by adhering to the strict party line—maintaining the status quo, but in politics the brass ring only comes around once. Senator Catherine M. Young has an opportunity to catch that political brass ring.  


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Honorable Catherine M. Young