New York Governor Announces Plans to Introduce Marriage Equality Bill
April 16, 2009
New York Governor David Paterson held a press conference at 10 am this morning to announce that he will introduce legislation to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in New York:
Comparing the status of gay men and lesbians to that of African-Americans, Jews, women and other groups who were historically excluded from full political and social equality, Mr. Paterson said he would lead a movement to authorize same-sex marriage. “We have a crisis of leadership today,” he declared. “We’re going to fill that vacuum today.” Mr. Paterson is expected to take on a level of involvement unusual for a governor, inserting himself directly into the ongoing campaign in Albany to gather the votes needed to pass the bill. Currently the measure does not have enough support in the State Senate, which Democrats seized last fall and control by a thin margin, 32 to 30. ...Mr. Paterson spoke with empathy for gay men and lesbians, calling for an end to “a legal system that has systematically discriminated against all of them.” He added: “We have all known the wrath of discrimination, we have all felt the pain and insult of hatred. We stand to tell the world that we want equality for everyone. We stand to tell the world that we want marriage equality in New York State.” “If we take no action, we will surely lose,” Mr. Paterson declared. “Maybe we’ve already lost. There is no gain without struggle.”
Jeremy W. Peters and Sewell Chan of the NYT's City Room blog has great coverage of the morning press conference. Read the full post here. Joe Solmonese will issue an official statement shortly and Anthony Hayes, our Northeast regional field organizer who attended the press conference with other LGBT activists, will send a report on the scene later today. More to come... **UPDATE: Here's Joe Solmonese's statement - plus some good background info on how HRC helped increase the numbers of fair-minded legislators in the statehouse:
The introduction of marriage equality legislation is a strong statement by Governor Paterson and we applaud him for standing today in support of all loving and committed couples throughout New York. We are committed to doing the hard work needed to secure enough votes in the Senate and will stand side by side with Empire State Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality New York, and supporters throughout the state to win marriage equality in New York in this legislative session.
HRC’s New York leadership is currently working with coalition partners to put a face on same-sex couples in loving and committed relationships who are being denied access to full marriage equality. Through letter writing campaigns, visits with legislators and conversations with friends, family, and neighbors, HRC and its membership in the state are engaged in an active effort to demonstrate the clear need for all couples in loving and committed relationships to have the right to marry. In the 2008 election season, HRC worked to elect three fair-minded senate candidates in the New York state Senate, including Brian Foley (SD-03); Joe Addabbo (SD-15); Jim Gennaro (SD-11), helping to change control of the Senate. In addition, HRC trained more than 50 people in it’s Camp Equality™ election skills training held on Long Island. In all, HRC New York PAC contributed over $120,000 and had two field staffers, plus a campaign college staffer on the ground. After the elections, HRC teamed with Marriage Equality New York to host a post-election forum to discuss marriage equality in New York state. HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse participated in that forum. In January of 2007, HRC helped elect Senator Craig Johnson on Long Island in a special election. The election was considered the tipping point for the Democratic takeover of the New York State Senate, as the seat was held by Republicans for over 100 years. HRC sent Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir and another staffer to the district to help increase fair-minded turnout in the district, resulting in a 54 to 46 win for Johnson. The New York State Assembly voted in June of 2007, 85-61, in favor of a marriage equality bill. That bill stalled in the Senate, which at the time was controlled by opponents of equality. In last November’s election, control of the Senate changed hands and Senator Malcolm Smith, a supporter of marriage equality, was chosen as Majority Leader and Senate President Pro Tem. In 2006 the New York Court of Appeals ruled against marriage equality, expressly stating that it should be resolved by the legislature.
May 18, 2013