Assembly Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
May 12th, 2009
The New York State Assembly passed a bill tonight that would legalize same-sex marriage. The bill passed 89 to 52 after extensive debate with five Republicans voting for the measure. The Assembly passed similar legislation in 2007 by a vote of 85 to 61 only to have the bill die in the Republican controlled Senate. Supporters hope the increased number of votes for the bill will sway senators.
The fight to legalize gay marriage will now go to the Democratically controlled Senate where Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has said he will not bring the bill to the floor until he is sure he has the votes. Smith reiterated his personal support for gay marriage in a statement released earlier today. Word is that supporters of the bill in the Senate need to win around five votes to secure it’s passage.
A press release from the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver follows:
ASSEMBLY PASSES MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL
Measure would allow same-sex partners to legally marry in New York
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell today announced the passage of a marriage equality bill that allows same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil marriages. The measure, a program bill introduced by Governor Paterson and sponsored by O’Donnell, grants same-sex couples the same legal recognition afforded to couples of the opposite sex.
In 2007, the Assembly passed a similar marriage equality bill, 85 to 61, with bipartisan support. Today’s vote of 89 to 52 (unofficial total) also gained approval from majority and minority members from throughout the state.
“This is a matter of equity and justice. New Yorkers should have the right to marry who they chose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples,” said Silver (D-Manhattan).
“The Assembly cast another vote today for equality, and sent a strong message that our state must no longer exclude citizens from basic rights and protections. Our constitution and our consciences demand action,” said O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). “It is impossible to ignore the pleas of parents who want their children to be treated equally under the law and individuals who want nothing more than to protect their partners and families.”
The bill (A.7732) would amend the Domestic Relations Law, to give same-sex couples the opportunity to legally marry in New YorkState and make all provisions of state law applicable to same-sex marriages. The measure specifically provides that no member of the clergy can be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.
When the Assembly last passed marriage equality in 2007, Massachusetts was the only state that allowed same-sex marriage. Today, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine permit same-sex marriages. While laws in Connecticut and Iowa were implemented by judicial decision, Vermont and Maine passed measures through their respective state legislatures. Both houses in New Hampshire have also passed a same-sex marriage bill, which is awaiting approval or veto by their governor.
California courts consented to marriage between same-sex partners for five months last year before the approval of a statewide referendum that instructs the state government to acknowledge only marriages between a man and a woman.
O’Donnell continued, “Many of my colleagues who voted yes are individuals of profound faith who were able to draw a distinction between civil and religious marriage. I commend every one of them for casting this courageous vote.”
Silver noted the changed political landscape since the last Assembly vote, in 2007. Residents in urban, suburban and rural areas all over New YorkState contacted their Assemblymembers, urging them to approve the marriage equality legislation.
Governor Paterson issued a directive to state agencies last year to recognize all marriages performed outside the state, including same-sex marriages performed in Canada or the few states that can be legally solemnized. Some municipalities in New York State offer domestic partnership registries for the purposes of benefits, but civil unions are not offered under New York State law.By David King on May 12, 2009, 8:40 pm
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