New York Governor Paterson: “We want marriage equality in New York State”
April 16, 2009
This is a guest post by HRC's Northeast regional field organizer Anthony Hayes: It has been an exciting two weeks for marriage equality in our country. I have watched our brothers and sisters in Vermont fight hard and finally win marriage equality for their state. I was filled with hope when I read the Iowa Supreme Court opinion detailing their unanimous vote in favor or marriage equality. Today was a great day for New York and for the national marriage equality movement when Governor David Paterson announced his intentions to introduce a marriage equality bill in New York. Even though I do this work every day, I still doubted that we would make it to today's historic press conference. All HRC members know that the road to equality is long, particularly since Human Rights Campaign members in NY worked tirelessly in 2008 to flip the NY State Senate to a more fair-minded majority. And a coalition of organizations including Empire State Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality NY, Broadway Impact and HRC have long been working to rally support around marriage equality here in the Empire State. Still, there are gratifying moments like today’s press conference that remind us why we fight so hard--and continue to fight even when it feels like an uphill battle. Governor Paterson has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality for years, but I truly started to appreciate the widening landscape for LGBT couples in New York as I stood next to him today. I also have new understanding of why brave leaders like NY Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell, who amazed everyone when he passed a marriage equality bill in the NY State Assembly in 2007, and State Senator Tom Duane, who is taking the lead on the marriage bill in NY State Senate in 2009, are real heroes in the fight for LGBT equality. Today Governor Paterson stood and declared:
This is a civil rights issue. For too long gay and lesbian New Yorkers, we have pretended that they have the same rights as their neighbors and their friends. For too long, we have allowed the perceptions that gay and lesbian New Yorkers have the same privileges as their own straight brothers and sisters or mothers and fathers; that is not the case. Too many cannot even make medical decisions. For too long many can't even cover each other under insurance policies or health benefit plans....All have been the victims of what is a legal system that has systematically discriminated all of them.
Assemblyman O'Donnell discussed his efforts to pass the marriage equality bill in 2007 and he committed to doing it again:
I was born in this state. I was educated in this state. I am an elected official. I pay taxes in this state. I want a piece of paper from my government just like the rest of you. It's about time that we actually talk about what this is and isn't.
The Governor has initiated what will certainly be a difficult fight, so ALL New Yorkers must reach out to their state senators and urge their support for the marriage equality bill. If they do not hear from us, they will not vote for equality. If they do not read our letters and see us on lobby days, they will not vote for marriage equality. Silence is not an option when it comes to winning marriage equality in New York State. Use this link to determine your state senator and call them today and tell them to support Governor Paterson's marriage equality bill: http://www.senate.state.ny.us/senatehomepage.nsf/Home?OpenForm I think the best motivator to take action can be gleaned from the words of our brave Governor Paterson:
Rights should not be stifled by fear. Silence should not be a response to injustice. If we take no action we will surely lose; maybe we’ve already lost,” he said. “There is no gain without struggle and there is no corner of this country or region of the world that tirelessly has not been struggling to bring freedom to those who don’t have it.
May 24, 2013