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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York

2009: SSM bill introduced to Assembly

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2009-MAR-25: New York City officials support SSM bill:

New York City Mayor Bloomberg attended the annual dinner of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. He said that he stands ready to promote same-sex marriage in the Legislature, but doesn't know when the time will be right for the bill's introduction. He said:

"We see that the tide is turning, that support is mounting. Make no mistake, the time will come ... and we will pass this bill. ... I don't know whether it's more likely or not [this year]. If they consider a bill, I think they should pass it, and I would be happy to testify for it." 1

The Republican Party has controlled the state Senate in the past and successfully blocked same-sex marriage. However, the Democrats are now in power.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, believes that the tide is turning in favor of marriage equality. She said:

"Everything's different this year in a way that I think is very positive for the movement of the bill. When we get the green light from our leaders in the [state] Senate that it's the right time to go, he [Mayor Bloomberg] and I will be up there." 1

A New York Daily News poll asked their website visitors how they stood on gay marriage. The term "gay marriage" is a misnomer. Most same-sex marriages involve two gays or two lesbians. But there are also same-sex marriages between a gay or lesbian and a bisexual; others involve two bisexuals.

Results were:

bullet 64% chose: "I'm all for it. Love is love, and who am I to discriminate?"
bullet 27% chose: "I am strongly against it. Marriage is between a man and a woman."
bullet 8% chose: "I'm against it though I support civil unions."
bullet 1% were unsure.

The Daily News is a New York City newspaper. Results may not be typical of New York State as a whole.

2009-MAR-25: Senator Schumer reverses stance on SSM:

Senator Charles Schumer (D). long an opponent of same-sex marriage, now supports it. At a meeting in a Manhattan restaurant, he said that he agreed with the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (1966). He also released a statement on SSM:

"I have thought long and hard about it. I have always believed that one of the great traits in America is we seek equality and should always strive to achieve it. We may not have been ready in 1996 when this issue first arose in Congress but I believe we are now." 2

2009-APR-14: Bill to legalize SSM expected:

On APR-14, Assemblymember Micah Z. Kellner, (D-Manhattan) stated that Governor David Paterson will announce the introduction of a same-sex marriage bill in the state Assembly. : "The governor's office called me and asked if I would stand with the governor. I said I will be thrilled to stand with the governor when he makes this announcement." He noted that: "No governor in the history of New York has been at the forefront. He realizes it is the civil rights movement of the 21st century."

Kellner continued: "We hope to have this bill passed at the end of June, at the end of the legislative session. No one wants to bring this to the floor to fail, it would be a huge disaster. We want to make sure that if we bring this to the floor for a vote that it passes." 3

Kellner's New York State Assembly biography states that he:

"... is a strong champion for affordable housing, fairer government funding formulas for New York City's public schools, mass transit and a cleaner environment, reproductive freedom and stem cell research, marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the rights of persons with disabilities." 4

He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant; he endured many operations and years of physical therapy.

Governor Patterson did not confirm the expected announcement, but did state:

"There is clearly a problem in that those individuals who are gay or lesbian who would live in a civil union are still not entitled to somewhere between 1,250 and 1,300 civil protections [given to married couples]. "We would like to try to address that at some point in the near future." 3

Bruce Anderson, interim executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, said it's "...high time that we have the opportunity to discuss this in Albany. We have waited very long."

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, (D-Queens), said that he will not schedule a vote until it has enough support to pass.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., (D- Bronx) is one of the few Democrat who opposes same-sex marriage. He criticized Paterson, saying the bill would embolden Republicans and cost Democrats seats in the Senate.

Sen. Thomas Duane, supports marriage quality. He praised the governor for planning to introduce the measure and predicted it would ultimately be approved by the Senate. 5

The New York Daily News polled visitors to their website. On 2009-APR-15, 63% supported what they call "gay marriage." 37% are opposed.  1

2009-APR-16: Governor Paterson announced introduction of bill:

As expected, Governor David Paterson announced that he will introduce a bill in the state legislature to legalize SSM in New York state. He said:

"The time has come to act. The time has come for leadership. The time has come to bring marriage equality to the state of New York. ... Too many loving families right here in New York state have not received legal recognition they actually deserve. We have an honor and we have a duty to make sure equality exists for everyone." 6

According to Reuters, he also commented on the timing of the bill:

"Anyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is. This is a civil rights issue. Civil rights don't wait for the right time." 7

He said that the law would give same-sex couples the 1,300 to 1,400 rights currently given automatically to opposite-sex couples when they marry. He appears to be in error on this number. Married couples currently receive on the order of 1,050 federal rights and a few hundred state rights. The federal DOMA law prevents married same-sex couples from receiving the federal marriage rights. So the New York state law would not bring marital equity to same-sex couples; they would only receive about a quarter of the rights that opposite-sex couples receive.

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, was present at the announcement. He said:

"New Yorkers pride themselves on their ability to practice their individual freedoms, and that includes the right to say what you believe, to practice your own faith and to love whomever you want, and it's time for this state to take the next step and ensure the rights of same-sex couples to marry whom they want." 6

State Senator Thomas Duane will sponsor the bill in the state Senate. He said:

"I know that Gov. Paterson is going to roll up his sleeves, and he's going to get this done, and we're going to make same-sex marriage a reality in this state. ... I absolutely look forward to standing with you, governor, when you sign this wonderful piece of legislation into law." 6

As has become customary in bills of this type, it will include a clause protecting the rights of clergypersons to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.

References used:

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

  1. Adam Lisberg, "Mayor Bloomberg urges New York State to pass bill to allow gay marriage," New York Daily News, 2009-MAR-26, at:
  2. Jessica Geen, "New York Senator's U-turn on gay marriage," Pink News, 2009-MAR-25, at:
  3. "New York governor to propose legalizing same-sex marriage," CNN, 2009-APR-14, at:
  4. "Biography: Assemblymember Micah Kellner, 65th Assembly District," at:
  5. Glenn Blain, "Gov. David Paterson to introduce gay marriage bill to New York state legislature this week," Daily News, 2009-APR-14, at:
  6. Laurie Segall, "New York governor to push same-sex marriage bill," CNN, 2009-APR-16, at:
  7. "NY state governor introduces gay marriage bill," Reuters, 2009-APR-16, at:

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-15
Latest update: 2009-MAY-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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