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Hats off to state Sen. Mark Grisanti for having the courage to cast the key vote to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. A Republican who crossed the aisle to do the right thing, Grisanti will likely lose some of the conservative core constituencies that elected him to the office last November.

Compare Grisanti, who made what must have been one of the most difficult decisions of his life in casting the historic vote, to Mayor Paul Dyster, who avoids difficult decisions like the plague. Oddly, Dyster -- who generally has a comment on everything from the death of Osama bin Laden to the election of Buffalo's Kathy Hochul to Congress -- remained mute on the gay marriage issue. If he comes down on the side of the gays, he'll lose some of the conservative black Baptist and Roman Catholic vote here. And publicly coming out against them would not only cost him in votes, but campaign funding as well.

So what's a coward to do?

An item on next week's City Council agenda will give Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti the power to perform marriages in Niagara Falls. The mayor, it seems, is so afraid of being defeated in the coming elections that he doesn't want to take any of the political fallout that might be attached in performing one of the newly legal marriages, while at the same time, he doesn't want to alienate the gay and lesbian community.

Where many consider Grisanti a hero for bucking the majority of his party in the vote, Dyster is afraid of complying with the law his party sponsored, taking the coward's way out and dumping responsibility on a female colleague.

Gay marriage is a natural for the city. Same-sex couples are affluent, usually with two earners and no children, and represent a potential windfall for Niagara Falls, the Honeymoon Capital of the World. The only thing that could screw it up would be a mayor who, for purely political reasons, appears to be anti-gay.

Yet, in a hypocritical, vote-pandering move, Dyster appears to be just that, once again showing that his lust for political power trumps everything else, including business development in the city.

Grisanti's brave stance finds its opposite in Dyster's cowardly and calculated avoidance of the issue.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com July 5, 2011