Friday, June 24, 2011

New York State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill!

Photo: James Keivom/News
It's official, and on Gay Pride Weekend, no less!

New York State's Senate has just passed the marriage equality bill 33-29, ratifying the earlier affirmative New York State Assembly vote, and now it awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo's promised signature, which will make New York the sixth (joining Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia), and by far the largest state by population, and by gay population, to legalize same-sex marriage. New York, the site of the 1969 Stonewall Inn Riots, also becomes the first state to pass a same-sex marriage bill through a legislature with differing parties controlling the two houses.

Cuomo had championed the cause of marriage equality from his campaign forward, even presenting an earlier version of the bill to the legislature, and repeatedly urged legislators of both parties to sign it.  He also directed a top aide to coordinate the efforts of a number of state gay-rights organizations and helped to lead a TV and radio campaign on its behalf. The logjam remained in the Senate, which flipped from tenuous Democratic control in 2010. Although 29 of the 30 Senate Democrats (including all the African Americans and all but one Latino legislator) signaled support, only 2 Republicans were officially on board. Then tonight, after the Senate President Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) finally brought the bill up for a vote, two more Republicans, Stephen M. Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) and Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), who had run against same-sex marriage in his campaign last year, shifted from on the fence to yes, and that was it.  A religious institutions exceptions amendment, sought by Republicans, passed 36-26.  Once Governor Cuomo signs the legislation, same-sex couples will be able to marry in 30 days.

Now, 44 more states to go, including both New Jersey and Illinois, the two states in which I spend most of my waking life. Just as important, many more states also need civil protections for LGBTQ people. The struggles continue, but what a major historic victory tonight for New Yorkers and all Americans!

UPDATE: Governor Cuomo has signed the legislation, so same-sex marriage is now official legal in New York State!


Here's another perspective, by Columbia University professor Katherine Franke, suggesting that we should not foreclose other partnership possibilities, even as she champions the necessity of equality under the law.

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