New York legislature gains new pro-equality leadership
January 8, 2009
Following two months of negotiations, New York’s State Senate Democrats have chosen Senator Malcolm Smith to lead the new majority that Democrats won last November. Chris Edelson, HRC's state legislative director, talks more about the New York election results in this guest post:
Last November’s election results hit us hard on the issue of marriage equality. One piece of good news, however, came from New York, where control of the Senate changed hands. That was good news because the marriage equality bill that passed the New York Assembly by an 85-61 margin in June 2007 had gone nowhere in the old Senate, which was controlled by a majority leader who was a committed opponent of equality and declared the marriage equality bill “dead on arrival”. We were thrilled by the election results in New York, and proud of the work we did on key campaigns, but we have anxiously followed negotiations over the past two months regarding leadership of the new majority. Sen. Malcolm Smith (pictured), a supporter of marriage equality, emerged as the leading candidate to become the new Senate President and Majority Leader, but members of his party tried to force him to agree that, if he became leader, the Senate would not vote on a marriage equality bill this year. We urged Sen. Smith to stand on principle, and we asked members in New York to urge Sen. Smith to reject the pressure and re-affirm his commitment to marriage equality You took up the call, and thousands of you emailed Sen. Smith. Sen. Smith heard your voice and stuck by his own convictions, saying that “civil rights should never be a bargaining chip.” Sen. Smith was able to win the leadership fight while continuing to stand for equality. He was sworn in yesterday as Senate President and Majority Leader. We’re proud of the work you did. We’re proud of openly gay Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell for his leadership in winning passage of the bill in the Assembly and moving one step closer to marrying his partner John. We’re proud of openly gay Senator Tom Duane for his leadership on marriage equality. We’re proud of the work HRC did in helping to move New York toward equality in last November’s election, and we’re looking forward to working with you and with supporters of equality throughout the state to win marriage equality in New York in this coming legislative session. It’s not going to be easy—it makes a huge difference to have a new Senate leader who supports equality, but we still have to make sure there are enough votes for a marriage bill to pass the Senate (and to pass the Assembly again). We will need your help in contacting your legislators and telling your stories, so that legislators understand why marriage equality is so important to New Yorkers. Thank you for your work for equality and here’s to a new Senate leader in New York who stands for equality.
March 20, 2013
Issues: Federal Advocacy
May 21, 2013