FROM A NEWS RELEASE: May 12, 2009
Assembly vote was 89-52; legislation moves to State Senate
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) civil rights organization, issued the following statement after the New York State Assembly voted 89-52 today in favor of marriage for same-sex couples. The legislation will now move to the State Senate.
"It's great to see the Assembly strongly re-affirm its support for marriage equality. It's time for the Senate, which now has pro-equality leadership, to ensure that loving, committed same-sex couples in New York can have the same rights and responsibilities under the law as loving, committed different-sex couples," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Congratulations to Assemblymember O'Donnell, Marriage Equality New York, Empire State Pride Agenda, and other activists who have been working for years to achieve equality for same-sex couples and their families in New York ."
HRC's New York leadership is currently working with coalition partners to put a face on same-sex couples in loving and committed relationships who are being denied access to full marriage equality. Through letter writing campaigns, visits with legislators and conversations with friends, family, and neighbors, HRC and its membership in the state are engaged in an active effort to demonstrate the clear need for all couples in loving and committed relationships to have the right to marry.
In the 2008 election season, HRC worked to elect fair-minded candidates to the New York State Senate, including Brian Foley ( SD-03 ) and Joe Addabbo ( SD-15 ) , helping to change control of the Senate. In addition, HRC trained more than 50 people in its Camp Equality™ election skills training held on Long Island. In all, HRC New York PAC contributed over $120,000 and had two field staffers, plus a campaign college staffer on the ground. After the elections, HRC teamed with Marriage Equality New York to host a post-election forum to discuss marriage equality in New York state. HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse participated in that forum.
In January of 2007, HRC helped elect Senator Craig Johnson on Long Island in a special election. The election was considered the tipping point for the Democratic takeover of the New York State Senate, as the seat was held by Republicans for over 100 years. HRC sent Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir and another staffer to the district to help increase fair-minded turnout in the district, resulting in a 54% to 46% win for Johnson.
In June 2007, the New York State Assembly voted 85-61 in favor of a marriage equality bill. That bill stalled in the Senate, which at the time was controlled by opponents of equality. In last November's election, control of the Senate changed hands and Senator Malcolm Smith, a supporter of marriage equality, was chosen as Majority Leader and Senate President Pro Tem.
In 2006 the New York Court of Appeals ruled against marriage equality, expressly stating that it should be resolved by the legislature. New York currently recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction, but does not permit same-sex couples to marry in New York.
Five states have recognized marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont ( effective September 1, 2009 ) , and Maine ( effective September, 2009, pending a possible referendum ) . California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in court; a decision by the state supreme court is expected by June.
The New Hampshire state legislature has approved legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples; that legislation will go to the Governor's desk. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.