Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen fit to invite his girlfriend of five years, the statuesque blonde Sandra Lee, into the Governor’s mansion. Sandra Lee has a cooking show I actually like called Semi-Homemade in which she gives tips on how to entertain so it appears you made various dishes from scratch. Andrew Cuomo also seems like a sober-minded Democrat. Nonetheless, this spectacle is a good gauge of the decline of marriage particularly in the East.
Andrew Cuomo’s father is the famously Catholic and famously uxorious Mario Cuomo. Andrew married into the Kennedy family and that marriage ended in divorce. The Cuomos are from Queens. Their support began in the conservative, Democratic Catholic neighborhoods there (where my family is also from). The fact that Andrew Cuomo will suffer little from shacking up with his girlfriend in a house provided by the taxpayers of New York and suffer no political consequences underlines the decline of marriage. What does his father think about this? There is a Sicilian word made famous by The Sopranos for this type of relationship. I would be stunned if Mr. Cuomo’s mother would not use it in this instance.
One of the great social problems of the current epoch is the failure of men and women to marry. The chief executive of New York is an example to the kids he will visit in schools both public and parochial. His girlfriend is a minor celebrity. He has been seeing her for five years and has invited her into the Governor’s mansion in flagrant and notorious cohabitation (as the common law marriage cases used to say).
Now, there is plenty of law in New York for cohabitation agreements for the unmarried. Ms. Lee has amassed a home economics empire and Mr. Cuomo has children to support. I wonder if they have so formalized their relationship by a cohabitation agreement. What happens if she does not want to move out if they split? Hopefully we will not find out. The damage to social mores is undiminished should no split occur.
The Cuomos are a famously Catholic family. They use that to their political advantage at every turn. Where is the Cardinal of New York on this? We know where one of his predecessors was in similar circumstances. We know where at least one Bishop is. Can Cuomo credibly speak to the problems of single motherhood while he shacks up with a woman not his wife in the Governor’s mansion?
The Mayors of New York have always had more leeway in this regard. But even Jimmy Walker, “Beu James,” the playboy Mayor of New York eventually married his girlfriend. The same is true of Rudy Giuliani whose soap opera existence in the Mayor’s office soured many conservatives. The Governor of New York’s public behavior unchastized by public opinion, his Bishop or his conscience is a harbinger of how much society cares about marriage.
As Peter Worthington notes, a joking simulation of masturbation and homosexuality in an entertainment video in the Navy five years ago is enough to remove a Captain with a spotless record from command on an aircraft carrier. Flagrant and notorious cohabitation without benefit of marriage in the Governor’s mansion of New York is unremarked. The party of conservatism is always going to have a difficult time negotiating such a world.