NY Passes Marriage Equality Bill
After an up-road battle – and no shortage of celebrity endorsements – our neighbor to the north passed a marriage equality bill in the New York State Assembly yesterday evening. The bill passed with an 80 to 63 vote in the Democrat-controlled chamber, according to several news reports, putting the state one major step closer to legalizing gay marriage this year. This followed several hours of remarks from both sides of the debate, including personal stories from gay couples and counter arguments from religious leaders.
Rosie O’Donnell’s gay brother Daniel, a well-known proponent of the bill in the assembly, sponsored the legislation along with 68 other advocates for marriage equality.
“This is an immense step toward achieving true equality for all here in New York,” said O’Donnell in a statement. “Since we first passed marriage equality four years ago, the need for this law has only grown, with same-sex couples in New York facing daily discrimination from our state. This must end.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also supports same-sex marriage, commended the assembly and particularly O’Donnell who has been fighting for the last several years for the measure to be passed and eventually signed into law – a move that is expected as early as this summer if the lawmakers can bring it up for debate before the session ends.
For the bill to become law, the measure must still be approved by the Senate and Governor. As of this week, as many as 29 Democrats and two Republicans in the Senate have said they would vote to pass the measure legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples. And Cuomo said he would sign the bill into law.
“The vote by the State Assembly has moved New York one step closer to making marriage equality a reality,” said Cuomo after the vote. “We are on the verge of a pinnacle moment for this state.”
During the heated debate yesterday between those who were for and against the bill, both locals and officials made statements about why the legislation is important. Deborah Glick, an openly lesbian lawmaker from Manhattan – and a gay marriage proponent – perhaps said it best when it comes to balancing religious freedom with civil rights: “You do not put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”