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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

Senate: week of 2011-JUNE-19, cont'd.
Vote scheduled. Bill passed by legislature.

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The acronym LGBT refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and transsexual communities. SSM refers to same-sex marriage.

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This topic continues from a previous essay

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Discussion of the SSM bill turns ugly:

New York Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan has received offensive postings on his facebook from supporters of SSM that has forced him to edit some comments and even ban some members. Similarly, Senator Diane Savino (D, Staten Island), who supports gay marriage, has experienced offensive postings by persons opposed to SSM.

There was a curious interaction outside the Senate building between an ultra-orthodox Jewish man and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. She is a lesbian and a supporter of same-sex marriage. She is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), a New York City synagogue with many LGBT members. Kleingaum, wearing a prayer shawl, attempted to display her pro-SSM sign that stated: "Equality for all Families." The ultra-orthodox man to her right held a sign with a heading: "Re-defining Marriage." At one point Rabbi Kleinbaum put her right arm over the shoulder of the man. She would have undoubtedly known of the ultra-orthodox behavioral code that forbids any physical contact between unrelated men and women. He turned, spit on her, and repeatedly loudly declared that she is not a Jew. A video attached to an article about the interaction generated many comments, most of which blamed the woman for touching the man's back. 1

The Buffalo News reported on JUN-24:

"One plan called for a vote to occur long after late-night newscasts ended and newspaper deadlines had passed as a way to ensure that the controversial legislation -- which most Republicans in the GOP-led Senate oppose -- would not receive widespread public attention immediately."

" 'I'll leave it to the Senate to decide how to do it,' Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said of the bill that he has been strongly pushing for weeks. Among fence-sitting Republicans who got a private meeting with Cuomo on Thursday was Buffalo Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, who had been undecided on the bill for weeks."2

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A debate and vote was scheduled:

Seattlepi reported during the morning of Friday, JUN-24:

"New York's Senate, which holds the key to legalizing gay marriage in the state, plans to finally take up the issue after nearly a week of delays and constant, sometimes eardrum-rattling protests outside the chamber.

The Senate's Republican majority is scheduled to meet behind closed doors at 10 a.m. then go into open session.

But a backlog of other more ordinary yet important bills for New Yorkers must be dealt with first. Printing the massive bills wasn't expected to be done until after Friday morning.

Once those bills are passed, the Senate Republicans could start what would likely be a lengthy debate over the gay marriage bill in a closed-door caucus. They could then send the bill to the floor, or kill it." 3

Senate Republicans have agreed to have an "up or down vote" on the SSM bill. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said:

"After many hours of deliberation and discussion over the past several weeks among the members, it has been decided that same-sex marriage legislation will be brought to the full Senate for an up or down vote."

"The entire Senate Republican Conference was insistent that amendments be made to the Governor’s original bill in order to protect the rights of religious institutions and not-for-profits with religious affiliations. I appreciate the Governor’s cooperation in working with us to address these important issues and concerns."

"As I have said many times, this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate." 4

The vote was expected to be held during the evening of JUN-24, after several hours of debate. According to the Associated Press:

"Gay marriage activists were jubilant and applauded Skelos, who is opposed to gay marriage, for keeping his promise to let the conference decide whether to send the bill to the floor." 5

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2011-JUN-24: The New York Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill:

Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx), a Pentecostal minister. was the only senator to argue against the bill. He said:

"It is unbelievable that the Republican Party, the party that always defended family values ... is allowing a Democratic governor to divide the Republican Party and the Conservative Party. Same-sex marriage has been rejected by the majority of Americans when given the opportunity to vote for it."

Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) announced himself on the floor of the Senate as the 32nd senator to support the legislation. He said:

"I have defined doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality. And that equality includes the definition of marriage. I fear that to do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing."

Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) was against SSM when he was elected in 2010, but had changed his mind since. He said:

"I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage."

By a vote of 33 to 29, the Senators approved a bill to make marriage available to same-sex couples. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC carried the results of the vote live:


Democratic Senator Diaz voted against the bill; the other 29 Democrats voted in favor. Four Republicans, Senators James Alesi (R.Perinton), Mark Grisanti (R, Buffalo), Roy MacDonald (R, Saratoga) , and Stephen Saland (R,Poughkeepsie) voted for the bill; the other 28 Republicans cast a No vote. The Republican senators also voted against the wishes of most New York adults; a recent poll showed that 58% of adults support SSM while only 36% are opposed.

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Discussion on this topic continues with the signing of the bill into law, etc.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Irin Carmon, "Ultra-Orthodox Man Spits On Lesbian Rabbi At Gay Marriage Protest." Jezebel, 2011-JUN-21, at:
  2. "Legislature plugs away, but deals fall apart," The Buffalo News, 2011-JUN-24, at:
  3. "NY's Senate to take up gay marriage bill, finally," Seattlepi, 2011-JUN-24, at:
  4. Katherine T. Phan, "New York Senate Confirmed For Gay Marriage Vote Tonight," The Christian Post, 2011-JUN-24, at:
  5. Michael Gormley, "Gay marriage headed to vote on NY Senate floor ," Associated Press, 2011-JUN-23, at:
  6. Will Fernia, "New York Senate passes same-sex marriage bill, MSNBC, 2011-JUN-24, at:

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 Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > NY > here

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-22
Latest update: 2011-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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