North Country Sen. Betty Little “a No vote” on gay marriage

I spoke a few minutes ago with Dan Macentee, spokesman for state Sen. Betty Little.  He described an unprecedented barrage of emails and phone calls on the issue of same-sex marriage.

The issue has been moving rapidly, with Sen. Little’s fellow Republican Senator Roy McDonald — whose district snakes up into the Queensbury area — announcing that he will change his vote to a Yes.

In the past, Sen. Little has described this as “a difficult issue.”  Two Republican assemblywomen from her district — Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward — have been strong supporters of same-sex marriage, describing it as “a civil right.”

According to Macentee, however, Sen. Little “is a No vote” on the issue.

Sen. Little has been described at times as a possible swing vote on gay marriage, but her voting record is pretty consistent at this point and appears to be heartfelt rather than political.

The Senate’s Republican leaders have made it clear that lawmakers should vote their consciences on this issue.

And while a Yes vote might trigger a primary challenge for Sen. Little, Assemblywoman Duprey survived a conservative challenge last year handily.


75 Comments on “North Country Sen. Betty Little “a No vote” on gay marriage”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Not a surprise.

  2. Mark, Saranac Lake says:

    I respect Betty Little’s personal position on gay marriage… but if a majority of the constituents in her district are in favor of gay marriage, it is time for Senator Little to respect the position of who she represents. Is Senator Little one of those politicians that thinks that once you’ve taken a position on an issue, you can’t ever change it?

  3. Not really a surprise. Little seems like a decent woman, but not a particularly courageous one.

    Did she/her spokesman actually give a reason for her opposition?

  4. myown says:

    It is time for Senator Little to go. She has not represented the North Country well. Other than trying to keep prisons open (which are a waste of State taxpayer dollars) she has done very little (pun). She has no vision for the future, is stuck in the past and has nothing postive to offer. Her oppositon to to businessman Peter Hornbeck (who was supported by his local government)for the APA board was classic hypocrisy and showed how out of touch she is with the future of the Adirondacks. Her opposition to gay marriage is no surprise. It is time for Little to retire and get of of the way of the future.

  5. “She has not represented the North Country well. Other than trying to keep prisons open (which are a waste of State taxpayer dollars) she has done very little (pun)…”

    Except that’s precisely why she’s represented the North Country well (in the narrow, parochial sense of the word). That’s why no serious opposition ever runs against her.

    Without the government teat of prison jobs, what would the economy of the Adirondacks look like?

  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Betty little has been an anchor on the North Country for too long.

  7. myown says:

    Well, that horse has run its course and prisons need to close. And that’s why Little needs to move on.

  8. Solidago says:

    It’s disappointing, but not surprising. Her vote probably represents the opinion of a good chunk of her constituents. I’d say what’s a bit more surprising is the courageous stance of her North Country colleagues.

  9. scratchy says:

    A disappointment

  10. Gary says:

    I respect her decision. I think she has done a good representing the north country over the years. She has not had an easy job with the Dems in Albany being in control. Their focus has always been NY City. The north country does not exist. As an example, I believe they are holding up the passage of a tax cap because of rent issues. I have no data but I suspect the majority of residents in the north country are opposed to gay marriage.

  11. myown says:

    During Little’s first 4 years as Senator (2002-2006) the Governor was a Republican and the NYS Senate was controlled by Republicans and the North Country has nothing to show for it. You can’t blame Democrats when Little has no plans or ideas to promote. She opposes legislation she doesn’t like but that’s about it. I think we need better representation in the Senate.

  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Gary, is this a question of what the majority wants or is it about the rights of citizens being denied?

    And the bit about Upstate Republicans not able to get anything done because the mean old Democrats from NYC wont give them a chance is just the excuse area leaders use for their ineffective representation. Ummm, Joe Bruno.

  13. Gary says:

    Where is it stated that gay marriage is a right? Betty has done a great deal over the years for our town. She has secured many grants that have allowed opportunities that otherwise would not be here. What has Billy Owens done for us!!!

  14. myown says:

    Owens is not a State Senator. He is a Democrat in the US House of Representatives which is currently controlled by Republicans. And the Party of No is attempting to dismantle every social program and safety net for the middle class and poor and give the “savings” to corporations and the wealthy. In spite of that, Owens has represented his district well.

  15. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Gary, it is about fairness to allow all people the same rights that others have. Just for one, it is about the right of a person to visit the person they love, that they consider their spouse in a hospital and be with them in their last moments of life.

  16. TomL says:

    Gary, I am not aware of any legitimate polling, but North Country Now in its popular weekly poll asked readers (central St. Lawrence County) thier opinion. The majority (just overy 50%) supported it, about 40% were opposed, and 10% were unsure. My guess is that it wasn’t that far off from the true distribution of opinions.

    Not that it is really relevant to the issue. Basic human rights shouldn’t be based on opinion polls. If you would have asked people 44 years ago if they supported allowing inter-racial marrriage, the majority would have said no in many regions of the country. Yet the US Supreme Court was correct in throwing out Virginia’s anti-mescegination law (in Loving vs. Virginia), even though the miscegination law was supported by the majority of citizens in the state, and had the vigorous support of many religious leaders (who were afraid they would be forced to conduct interracial marriages).

  17. John Warren says:

    Betty Little will have to explain to her grandchild or great-grandchild why she was a bigot and thought of them as second class. She needs to go.

  18. Bret4207 says:

    My in laws live in Littles district. She’s helped my MIL out with issues on several occasions, always been there to talk with and offer help I’m told. That’s serving the constituency.

    As for gay marriage, I’m agin’ it. Marriage is one man, one woman. Anything else needs a different term to describe it. What’s more, gov’t should not be legislating marriage or having anything to do with it. What possible reason is there for the requirement of a marriage license? If you look at it as a civil contract, then pay a recording fee and be done with it, but if people need a license and legal permission to marry, then why don’t they need a license and legal permission to co-habitate?

    In my view this is just using legislation to force acceptance of a “lifestyle” that some people find they disagree with.

  19. MrSandwich says:

    I’ve said it before. Do away with state marriage and the problem is solved. Marriage is a religious institution and therefore decisions should be made by religions and not politicians looking for votes. Get the government out of it.

  20. rockydog says:

    What a bunch of haters. I didn’t realize so many people supported taking away jobs.

  21. Rich says:

    Not surprising, Betty is a dinasour who needs to go. Her myopic support of the crazy ACR project in Tupper Lake is further proof that she doesn’t do her homework before making decisions.

  22. Peter Hahn says:

    I think the last poll of NY state was 56% in favor of gay marriage, with a steadily increasing level of support. The north country is probably slightly behind the curve (maybe still a majority in favor), but you can bet that within 10 years the north country will be strongly in favor of gay marriage as well. Senator Little should do the right thing.

  23. hermit thrush says:

    i think it would perfectly fine if the state dropped the word “marriage” in favor of “civil unions” for both gay and straight unions. but that’s never ever ever going to happen. ever. so given that, what would people like bret and mrsandwich have us do?

  24. Solidago says:

    I’m in favor of gay marriage in New York and I have donated to a gay rights organization for many years because of my support for it. I’m thrilled that it is about to become legal in New York. Marriage confers very real and important legal benefits, and I find it profoundly unfair that these benefits are denied to (hundreds of?) thousands of couples in New York.

    That said, just because something is unfair, it doesn’t necessarily mean some fundamental human right is being denied, and that those who have reservations about addressing the inequity are “bigots.” I of course disagree with those who are against gay marriage, but I respect them and their opinion.

  25. RuralGayCouple says:

    I know Betty and I’m saddenned by her continued opposition. Even conservatives are coming around to the point of view that the government shouldn’t stop or interfere with this sort of thing. To me this is a very practical issue. Examples: If my partner of 28 years dies, the law treats me as a stranger. If a straight spouse dies, the survior continues to get social security. And on and on. It’s just about fairness, not some huge morals issue. Being gay is not a choice…it makes no sense that anyone would chose a life that brings such discrimination. Lack of acceptance drives kids to suicide….how can anyone think this is a choice?

    You can be fired for being gay. You can be denied housing for being gay. It is crazy. And it is prejudice, make no mistake about it. The general population is ahead of lawmakers on these issues and it is time they caught up. Now what we need is a candidate to run against Betty. Anyone here what that job?

  26. Dave Mason says:

    Now what we need is a good candidate to run against Betty. Anyone here want that job? There certainly would be backers. I addition to this, the great prison shrink is going to make that whole jobs strategy look pretty bad too.

  27. MrSandwich says:

    I have no problem with two people loving each other man/man, woman/woman. I don’t care what you do on your own time. Marriage “benefits” were designed to get votes from a large constituency. Seeing as how 50% of marriages end up in divorce, I think repeal is long overdue. Do you know how much it costs to get a divorce now? I know several couples who are “married” just because they can’t afford to get a divorce.

  28. Mervel says:

    I don’t agree about the legal standing of marriage being only about benefits and votes.

    The fact is there are great benefits to being married for society at large.

    If two people live together and have kids together and buy property together their breaking up will be just as complex and messy as a divorce if not more so. Marriage is very efficient. It is true around 50% of marriages break up however the rate of break up for living together are much higher, with marriage you still have 1/2 the couples staying together all of their lives. It is not as if there is this other great way to have a long term family relationship out there.

    Sure if you just want short term relationships DON”T get married I totally agree.

  29. Cindy says:

    After all this time why don’t they just put the question to a vote of WE the people …sense the ones we voted in can’t get their act together and see most people in the state don’t care if they are married.

    For me I say go for it, I know gays who have been together longer then some striaghts.

    When you get right down to it no one should have a right to say who can and can not be married Unless it’s a child not of leagle age or you know that a person is going to be abused.

    So lets just have a state wide go in the booth alone and vote one way or the other. Then our voice will truly be heard.

  30. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Marriage is NOT a religious institution. It is a legal construct. Marriage is defined by law and is intertwined within our laws and tax structure.

    If marriage was simply a religious construct then Mormons and Muslims would be allowed to have plural marriages in this country. Religious groups are allowed to perform marriage rituals within certain bounds dictated by law.

  31. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    MrSandwich, the trouble is that it is just so darned profitable to be married!
    Instead of two people having to get a job with health insurance married people only need one. There are so many financial benefits to getting married — I mean besides all the loot you get at the reception (tax free, I might add) — that most couples are CRAZY not to, especially if you plan on outliving your spouse because you get all of their stuff without having to go to lawyers or anything. Buying the cow turns out to be better than getting the milk for free!

  32. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And I want to know which two people here are against letting people be with the person they love on their deathbed? Maybe I should introduce you to a guy named Jesus Christ.

  33. Gary says:

    Knucklehead: If you have included me as one of those two you are wrong! First, you don’t have to be married to be with a person at their time of death. Second, you do raise some good points. Third, I never said I was against gay marriage. I really don’t care one way or the other. It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time. I understand both sides of the issue. What I did say is I don’t agree that Betty Little needs to go. Comments have suggested she needs to be replaced because of her vote on this one issue. I suspect some want her to go because she isn’t a Democrat. That response by “myown” reads like the preamble to the Democratic Bible. I’m aware that Bill O is in the House, I’m also aware the Senate is controlled by the Dems as have the last three Govs. I’m not looking at party affiliation but performance! Betty Little has done many things for the people in my community and I appreiate her efforts. Be careful what you wish for!!

  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Gary, in some hospitals in this country a person’s gay partner can be prevented from being in the room as their partner died because they are not considered family. It has happened.

    And I wan’t accusing you…unless you gave me a dislike.

  35. myown says:

    Gary says, “That response by “myown” reads like the preamble to the Democratic Bible.”

    1. I don’t know anything about a Democratic bible.

    2. I have been enrolled as an Independent my entire life. I just call them as I see them.

  36. MrSandwich says:

    We’ve made marriage a legal contract. If two women want to marry the same guy so be it. I really don’t care what you do with your life. Not for me, but to each his own. Ones enough. Do I think an age limit is appropriate? Sure. Lets not be so naive to think plural marriages don’t exist, they do. How about a wife and girlfriend. Ever know someone like that. I do think you make a good point about visiting someone in the hospital. Not sure what the solution there would be.
    Mervel, I do think marriage has a purpose and can be very fulfilling. I don’t think I need to apply for a license from the state to say I love someone. That’s a private matter.

  37. Bret4207 says:

    HT- what would I do? Bring in a new term for the civil union of other than a man/woman. Call it a partnership or whatever, let it have the same rights, privileges and downfalls as a marriage. I don’t object to the legal union of a homosexual couple, but I do object to calling it a “marriage”. It’s not, simple as that.

    Knuck- I guarantee that it won’t be long before those states allowing gay marriage are challenged by those desiring plural marriage. After all, if it’s “unfair” to deny a loving couple of the right to marry, then it’s also “unfair” to deny a loving threesome, foursome, etc. the same right. This of course brings up the question of why our enlightened, politically correct
    intelligentsia can be so hypocritical as to call a gay couple’s love perfectly “natural. normal and right” and a Morman Fundamentalists love of his 3 or 7 wives a “perversion”. If that doesn’t make you think for a second, then you simply have blinders on.

    (That should get me at least 26 and a half “dislikes”!!!)

  38. hermit thrush says:

    i think that’s a completely unacceptable answer, bret. i think the state must treat gay and straight unions EQUALLY. and that means calling them by the same name. otherwise you’re baking second-class status for gays right into the cake. and i happen to think that gay marriages are every bit as much “marriages” as straight ones, simple as that.

    This of course brings up the question of why our enlightened, politically correct
    intelligentsia can be so hypocritical as to call a gay couple’s love perfectly “natural. normal and right” and a Morman Fundamentalists love of his 3 or 7 wives a “perversion”. If that doesn’t make you think for a second, then you simply have blinders on.

    i’m sure you don’t mean it this way, but this is ridiculous to the point of giving offense. homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is natural. people are born that way! they don’t get to choose! whereas plural marriage has nothing to do with innate sexual orientation; that’s just a choice that people want to make.

  39. MrSandwich says:

    As a single man I find it unfair that married people get any advantages. Am I a second class citizen?
    States should not be in the marriage business.
    Your morality is not mine.

  40. Ben Hamelin says:

    I emailed Betty voicing my support for the passage of this law. I would like to know by what means she determines the majority opinions. I have not been polled. I hope everyone commenting here has taken or will take the time to contact Senator Little with their stance on this issue (assuming she is your rep!). I hope to see a more formal way to poll the voters on issues like this.

  41. Bret4207 says:

    HT- “i’m sure you don’t mean it this way, but this is ridiculous to the point of giving offense. homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is natural. people are born that way! they don’t get to choose! whereas plural marriage has nothing to do with innate sexual orientation; that’s just a choice that people want to make.”

    How can you say a homosexual relationship is “natural” and a plural relationship isn’t? If a man or woman desires multiple partners in a relationship, how is that any more a choice than being gay or straight? That argument simply falls on it’s face. If the people involved agree to the relationship then it’s no different than getting that ONE special someone, of either sex or orientation, to say “I do”. There’s no more “choice” in it than in any other relationship. To defend gay marriage on those grounds is precisely making the argument about the “camels nose under the tent”. You accept one thing, you are bound to accept the other! Otherwise you’re just a bigoted hate monger, like me.

    Welcome to the club HT. We meet the first Tuesday of the month at Grange hall, bring a dish to pass.

  42. Today, 17 June; pls consider making a call to Sen Betty Little (518) 455-2811 and asking her to vote for equal rights and JOBS.

    Suggest that it’s not just about her own personal feelings, it’s about creating an environment where national, multi-national firms w/clear non-discrimination personnel ‘charters’ can ‘find a home’ and bring much needed jobs.

    Tennessee just passed legislation to abridge rights ( ‘Don’t say Gay’ ) and there are US & International firms that are going to continue to leave TN ( ~ 150,000 jobs in last 10y) or, not site there because of TN going BACKWARDS ( to the 50′s) instead of forward in the 21st century.

    Jobs ARE ‘available’ to be ‘won’, IF we progress v regress. Ask Little to vote for our ‘right’ to compete for JOBS regardless of how she feels about offering equal rights to everyone in NY.

  43. hermit thrush says:

    maybe i’m misreading your comment, bret, but i don’t think you understand what i mean by “choose” here. you wrote,

    If a man or woman desires multiple partners in a relationship, how is that any more a choice than being gay or straight?

    and of course you take it as self-evident that that’s not any more of a choice. but i think that’s totally wrong, and it really cuts to the heart of the issue. being gay or straight is no choice at all. it’s how you’re born! and that makes all the difference in the world! here’s a good andrew sullivan blog post from a few years ago. he writes better than i do:

    … Polygamy is a choice, in other words; homosexuality isn’t. The proof of this can be seen in the fact that straight people and gay people can equally choose polyandry or polygamy or polyamory, or whatever you want to call it. But no polygamist or heterosexual can choose to be gay. If you’re not, you’re not.

  44. hermit thrush says:

    from ted olson, who served as solicitor general under george w. bush:

    Conservatives should support the Governor’s marriage equality bill. Equality under the law, nurturing strong families, and religious freedom are bedrock conservative values, and the Governor’s bill promotes them all. The bill finally ends the State of New York’s demeaning treatment of gay men and lesbians as second-class citizens unworthy of the institution of civil marriage. It stabilizes and strengthens New York families headed by gay men and lesbians by allowing them to marry, delivering untold benefits to the thousands of children raised bythose parents. And the bill protects religious freedom by ensuring that religious institutions will not be required to perform marriages contrary to their beliefs. As a lifelong Republican and conservative, I support this legislation. New Yorkers who believe in freedom, respect family values and cherish religious liberty should embrace it as well.

  45. hermit thrush says:

    sorry, screwed up the link. it’s here.

  46. Bret4207 says:

    Okay, I see where you can confuse what I meant/said. I didn’t mean to muddy the waters with the “natural vs choice” debate. Let me try this- there is no biological need for gays to enter into a permanent union/marriage any more than there is for straight couples. It follows that marriage/civil union/permanent, legally recognized relationship is a choice. You say to deny one group that “right” is wrong. I agree with the spirit, if not the exact term you would choose to use. So if that is fair and right, then why would it be fair and right to limit plural unions? Would you limit the number of people involved in a legal relationship? And if so, why? If one man wishes to marry 5 women or one woman wishes to marry 5 men or if 3 men and 3 women all wish to marry…why is it correct to deny them that “right”?

    Please don’t fall back on the old bone of “because bigamy is illegal!”. I’ve seen that tried before. Gay marriage isn’t legal either. If we can change one law we can certainly change another.

  47. Bret4207 says:

    FYI- I don’t much care what Ted Olson, Newt Gingrich or David Duke say. I don’t take my orders on how to think from anyone else.

  48. hermit thrush says:

    aside from the fact that you’re putting words in my mouth, bret — i don’t know that i’d say that anyone has the “right” to get married, or at least that’s something i’d have to think a lot more about — what you’re saying could hardly illustrate better how much of a bs point this whole polygamy thing is.

    conveniently enough, from the same andrew sullivan post i linked to above:

    To put it another way: If polygamy and sexual orientation are interchangeable in human identity and psychology, there is no slippery slope. You’re already there. Once you’ve allowed heterosexuals to have legal marriage, and you see no distinction between sexual orientation and polygamy, there’s no logical reason to prevent polygamy. And it’s straight people – and mainly straight men – who are the prime movers behind polygamy as an ideal anyway.

    in other words, the gay marriage argument is totally decoupled from the polygamy argument. you talk about “letting the camel’s nose under the tent” vis-a-vis polygamy, but this makes no sense. either the nose is already under the tent because we allow heterosexual marriage, or it’s not. allowing gay marriage has no bearing on things either way. it’s a totally orthogonal issue.

    as for polygamy itself, it’s not something i’ve thought much about (since it’s not at all a pressing issue!), and i don’t really have an opinion on it. i think there are at least plausible arguments for outlawing it, arguments that are, again, orthogonal to the gay marriage issue. but i do have to say, even if the rules of logic changed and allowing gay marriage somehow forced polygamy on us too, it would be well worth it. the damage done to gays by denying them full equality and integration into society is very real and very detrimental to us all.

    finally, as an fyi to you, of course you’re more than welcome to comment on the ted olson quote, but i was directing it to the ncpr community at large, not to you in particular. (in fact, i really had people like mervel in mind.)

  49. Bret4207 says:

    Sorry HT, you can’t duck and cover your way out of this one. “… whereas plural marriage has nothing to do with innate sexual orientation; that’s just a choice that people want to make.” Exactly- a choice, just like the choice gays and monogamous straight couples make. You also said, “i don’t know that i’d say that anyone has the “right” to get married” and then you go on to say, “the damage done to gays by denying them full equality and integration into society is very real and very detrimental to us all.” Full equality most certainly implies a “right”, does it not? And then, “as for polygamy itself, it’s not something i’ve thought much about (since it’s not at all a pressing issue!), and i don’t really have an opinion on it. i think there are at least plausible arguments for outlawing it…”. Talk about BS! No freakin’ way can you say a gay “marriage” is fine and dandy and then say a plural marriage isn’t. What arguments against it can you comer up with? And if a plural or gay “marriage” is okay, then how can you outlaw a son marrying his mother, or brother his sister or man his dog or woman her fish? You say it’s a right, but it’s not, but it is! Make up your mind.

    Yeah, the camels nose and one hump is under the tent wall already. Unintended consequences. The best answer remains is to get gov’t out of the marriage biz entirely and leave it to the churches is someone wants to marry or lawyers if the prefer a civil contract. Pass what laws are needed to allow a person to retain spousal rights and be done with it. All the gay marriage issue is is a way to force legally binding political correctness on our society.

    Actually, I kind of hope gays do get this “right” you say doesn’t exist. Then they can start paying the Marriage Penalty Tax like the rest of us.

  50. Pete Klein says:

    Bret is right on more than one count. Anything can be made legal and anything can be made illegal.
    Currently, just for one extreme example, some states legally kill people. It’s called an execution.
    Now if you or I decide to kill someone, it’s called murder.

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