On Friday night, the New York State legislature passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it immediately into law. New York is thus the sixth state–and by far the largest–to permit same sex marriage, and the third to do so by legislation rather than judicial fiat when a few judges noticed previously undiscovered fundamental rights lurking in the umbras and penumbras of state constitutions. (The District of Columbia also established gay marriage by legislation. So did the state of Maine, but that act was overturned by referendum.)
As the New York Times details this morning, it took a lot of savvy and artful maneuver on the part of the Cuomo administration to get this bill through the Legislature. And this isn’t the only major accomplishment of Governor Cuomo in the first six months of his administration. He also got a bill through limiting annual property tax increases to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. New York State’s property taxes are the highest in the country, but the enormously influential teachers unions fought the bill tooth and nail. And the state passed a notably austere budget on time that actually cut spending.
What a remarkable contrast with the Governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, who was governor of New York for 12 years (1983-1995) and in that time did nothing, absolutely nothing, in any way to disturb the status quo of crony government, phony accounting, and continuing economic decline of the once mighty Empire State. Don’t believe me? Here’s the Wikipedia article on Mario Cuomo. It lists his accomplishments as governor. But I’ll save you the trouble, here’s the list: He gave the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
New York State has had some notable governors. Four later became president (Van Buren, Cleveland, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt) and four came very close to being president (Samuel Tilden, Charles Evans Hughes, Al Smith and Thomas E. Dewey). Two became chief justice, three vice president. Of course, there were a few losers. New York impeached one governor (William Sulzer, in 1913) and, back in colonial times, hanged another (Jacob Leisler, in 1691). There’s no doubt in which category Mario Cuomo belongs. At the moment, his son seems to be aiming at joining the other.