WE WON! Marriage Victory in New York!
June 24, 2011
New York On Verge of Becoming Seventh U.S. Jurisdiction to Allow Gay and Lesbian Couples to Marry
In a history making, bipartisan vote, the New York Senate today passed a widely popular marriage equality bill after the most aggressive state legislative campaign in the history of the LGBT rights movement. With Governor Cuomo’s promised signature of the bill, New York will become the sixth state, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples can legally marry.
"History was made today in New York. This victory sends a message that marriage equality across the country will be a certainty very soon," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
The successful vote today shows that marriage equality is a bipartisan, mainstream value that both chambers of the Legislature approved. HRC could not be more grateful to the decisive and model leadership of the Governor and bipartisan group of senators who listened to the supermajority of New Yorkers and got this done.
"Governor Cuomo has shown New York and the nation what leadership looks like," added Brian Ellner, HRC's senior strategist in the state. "The bipartisan nature of the vote is compelling proof that marriage equality is increasingly an issue that unites, not divides. Legislators listened to their constituents and did the right thing."
The successful vote in the Senate comes after a strategic, coordinated and aggressive legislative advocacy effort by LGBT civil rights organizations. Working in close coordination with a tight-knit coalition, HRC's National Field Director, Marty Rouse, led one of the largest legislative advocacy efforts in New York state history and the largest field campaign ever in support of state gay rights legislation. An unprecedented 30 full-time field organizers were employed by HRC across the state and generated over 150,000 constituent contacts to targeted legislators.
To reflect the deep and diverse support for marriage equality, HRC also created New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, a video campaign that eventually featured more than 40 iconic New Yorkers ranging from President Bush’s daughter Barbara Bush to Russell Simmons advocating for marriage equality (http://www.hrc.org/NY4marriage). HRC spent more than $1 million overall on the effort.
The successful vote in the Senate comes after a very strategic, coordinated and aggressive legislative advocacy effort by LGBT civil rights organizations. HRC was a founding member of New Yorkers United for Marriage, a coalition that included HRC, Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, Marriage Equality New York, and Log Cabin Republicans. The coalition raised $2 million that it used to advocate for marriage equality.
"There’s no doubt that this was the most unified marriage effort, ever," said Solmonese. "Today's victory is made even sweeter by the fact that organizations were able to rally around a common goal, work hard and deliver a huge win for civil and human rights."
What happened in New York doesn't stay in New York. The decisive leadership of Governor Cuomo combined with the strong bipartisan support in the legislature will likely influence other states—New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island--that are considering extending marriage equality to their residents.
In the past year, a number of national polls (Washington Post/ABC News, Gallup, and CNN) have shown, for the first time, that a majority of the country supports marriage equality. Support for marriage equality has increased by 19 percentage points since 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.
With New York being the third most populous state in the country, a lot more LGBT couples are going to marry. And the more who marry, the more people will see we’re no different than anybody else—wanting the best for our families, loved ones, and in many cases our kids. And it makes it harder to discriminate.
Congratulations to all involved in this huge victory!
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