New York passes landmark marriage equality law

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John F. Kennedy photo by Abbie Rowe

Rainbow Empire State BuildingIn a history-making, bipartisan vote late in the evening of June 24, the New York Senate passed a widely popular marriage-equality bill after the most aggressive state legislative campaign in the history of the LGBT rights movement. With Gov. Andrew 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.

 

 

Joe Solmonese of HRC says history was made in New York on Friday night.

Joe Solmonese of HRC says history was made in New York on Friday night.

“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.

 

 

New York Governor Andrew Coumo

New York Gov. Andrew Coumo

“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 in one of the largest  efforts of its kind 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 more than 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 George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara to Russell Simmons advocating for marriage equality. Overall HRC spent more than $1 million on the effort to pass marriage equality in New York.

 

GSE's Steven Goldstein said

Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein: “We believe the victory in New York, and its choice of marriage equality over civil union inequality, set the stage for our continuing fight for marriage for same-sex couples in New York’s sister state [New Jersey].”

The Courage Campaign organized grass-roots phone banks and said, “In partnership with the Human Rights Campaign and New Yorkers United for Marriage, Courage members made call after call until we picked up the six votes we needed.”

 

Previously undecided state senators such as Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Shirley L. Huntley and others publicly cited the number of calls they got from constituents as a reason they supported 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.” 

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.

In New Jersey, Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein said, “We are proud that New York bypassed the lesser option of civil unions, which, as New Jersey knows painfully well, enshrine second-class citizenship for same-sex couples and have failed to provide equality. We have more work to do. We believe the victory in New York, and its choice of marriage equality over civil union inequality, set the stage for our continuing fight for marriage for same-sex couples in New York’s sister state [New Jersey], just a mile away.”

 

 

Rainbow Empire State BuildingIn a history-making, bipartisan vote late in the evening of June 24, the New York Senate passed a widely popular marriage-equality bill after the most aggressive state legislative campaign in the history of the LGBT rights movement. With Gov. Andrew 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.