NY Gov. Introduces Marriage Bill as Support Swells

*Update: Republican Sen. Roy McDonald told the Times Union that he will vote "yes" in support of marriage equality. He becomes the 31st senator to proclaim public support for marriage by gay and lesbian couples. The bill needs 32 to pass the Senate.

Momentum for marriage equality in the Empire State may have taken a major step forward today as Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a program bill to bring marriage equality to New York State.

Touting New York’s history of being on “the right side of history,” Cuomo acknowledged the past attempts to make marriage a reality for countless gay and lesbian couples but called on the current legislature to do what is fair.

“From the fight for women’s suffrage to the struggle for civil rights, New Yorkers have been on the right side of history. But on the issue of marriage equality, our state has fallen behind. For too long, same-sex couples have been denied the freedom to marry, as well as hundreds of rights that other New Yorkers take for granted. Marriage Equality is a matter of fairness and legal security for thousands of families in this state—not of religion or culture. When it comes to fighting for what’s right, New Yorkers wrote the book, and Marriage Equality is the next  chapter….”

Gov.  Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act would remove the barriers that prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying in New York by amending New York’s Domestic Relations Law to state:

•A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex

•No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being the same sex or a different sex

•All relevant gender-specific language set forth in or referenced by New York law shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner

•No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex

The governor’s actions and statement culminate the wave of legislative support which began early yesterday afternoon. First Republican  Sen. James Alesi, told reporters that he planned to vote “yes” for marriage if the bill included religious exemptions—which this version does.  And shortly before a closed door session yesterday evening, several previously undeclared Democrats--Shirley Huntley and Joseph Addabbo of Queens, and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn—also announced they would support the measure.

And despite Sen. Ruben Diaz’s continued anti-gay efforts, many Latino organizations and leaders support marriage equality. Late last week, the Hispanic Federation, a service-member organization that provides services for 90 health and human service organizations in the Northeast, officially endorsed marriage.

As it stands the number of “yes” votes still remains unclear, however, continued growing support for equality remains. GLAAD will continue to monitor the situation and will keep everyone posted on the progress.