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New Yorkers United for Marriage

Equality advocates—both national and New York based—are coming together with one goal in mind: to make marriage for gay and lesbian couples a reality in the Empire State.

Empire State Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality New York, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, along with a number of other coalition partners, are pooling resources to make sure that all couples in New York are able to take care of and provide for the ones they love.

The coalition, announced late last month, is a part of an ongoing effort across the country to grant equality protections to gay and lesbian couples.

So what makes this year’s effort to achieve marriage in New York different from last year’s? A united effort, according to Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson.

“Last time, there were lots of players, lots of organizations, lots of good will, but not the truly united effort that has come together to work hand in glove with the governor and legislative leaders,” he told The New York Times.

Working in contrast to the unsuccessful drive two years ago, advocates envision a short, disciplined and intense run-up to a vote in the State Legislature.

The coalition plans to raise more than $1 million for a media blitz—the first ads were rolled out yesterday—hire a  political consultant group and deploy field organizers in target districts—including those with heavily black and Latino populations.

And the strategy—less than a month old--appears to be working.

President Bill Clinton—the president who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law—joined the campaign saying:

“Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ — deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community,” Clinton said. “That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.”

And yesterday, El Dario New Yorks’ biggest Spanish-language daily endorsed marriage for gay and lesbian couples in an op-ed saying:

New York needs and is ready for this change. Our gay population is bigger than the seven nearby jurisdictions (six states plus the District of Columbia) that have legalized same-sex marriage. And close to 60 percent of New Yorkers support gay marriage.

Governor Cuomo’s campaign merits all the the support of the Latino community, including those who are opposed for religious reasons. Officials in this position should remember that they were elected to serve the public (independent of its sexual orientation) under American laws, which were established with a clear distinction between church and state. Latinos should also remember our collective fight is against discrimination and marginalization.

Homosexuality is a human reality. The majority of New Yorkers have a friend, colleague or relative who’s gay. It’s time to give these people the opportunity to develop families and build communities. Our government shouldn’t be in the business of telling the people who to love or who to marry.

The original Spanish version is at El Diario.

GLAAD has been working with couples around the state to share their stories of love and commitment. Next Saturday, we will host our next free marriage media training in Rochester, N.Y. from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley located at 875 E Main St. Suite 500 Rochester N.Y. 14605.