History in the Making: New York To Become Seventh U.S. Jurisdiction Allowing Gay and Lesbian Couples

by HRC Staff

Governor Cuomo’s Leadership and Unprecedented Field Campaign Push Bill over Finish Line


Washington– 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 reality very soon," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

"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 (www.hrc.org/NY4marriage).  HRC spent more than $1 million overall on the effort to pass marriage in New York.

"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."

HRC was a founding member of New Yorkers United for Marriage. Coalition partners include 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.

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 same-sex marriage has increased by 19 percentage points since 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

For maps of marriage and relationship recognition laws in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America¹s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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