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Full Steam Ahead on Gay Marriage
June 14th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced a program bill to allow all couples to marry in New York State. This is the same-sex marriage bill that Cuomo said he would only introduce if he had the votes to pass it. The bill says that religious institutions and benevolent organizations do can limit who uses their facilities for marriage ceremonies and says that no minister or clergy person has to “solemnize” a marriage. The bill would become law 30 days after Cuomo signs it.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement. “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 of our civil rights story.”

Here is the press release from Cuomo’s office:

GOVERNOR CUOMO PROPOSES MARRIAGE EQUALITY ACT

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today submitted a program bill to bring marriage
equality to New York state. The Marriage Equality Act permits all couples
to enter into marriage in New York state, thereby removing the current
barrier same-sex couples face in recognizing their relationships,
protecting their families and obtaining essential benefits.

Specifically, the Act grants same-sex couples who seek to marry equal
status under the law as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and
protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite
sex.

“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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 of our civil rights story.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the freedom to marry is “one of the
vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free
people.” Further, the state assigns hundreds of protections, benefits and
mutual responsibilities in a variety of areas to couples who marry,
including health care and hospital visitation rights, child custody issues
and financial matters.

However, in New York, many individuals who currently seek to exercise the
freedom to marry their partners may not do so solely because they are of
the same sex.

The Marriage Equality Act would remove these barriers 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

To ensure that the bill does not intrude into matters of religious belief,
the Marriage Equality Act affirms that no member of the clergy can be
compelled to solemnize any marriage. This bill grants equal access to the
government-created legal institution of civil marriage while leaving the
religious institution of marriage to its own separate and fully autonomous
sphere. The bill also guarantees that religious institutions and benevolent
organizations such as the Knights of Columbus remain free to choose who may
use their facilities for marriage ceremonies and celebrations or to whom
they provide religious services, consistent with their religious
principles.

New York has always been at the forefront in advancing equal rights. In
1983, New York banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in state
employment. In 2002, the state extended the same principle to the private
sector by enacting the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. That same
year, the state recognized same-sex relationships by extending workers’
compensation benefits to all those who lost a partner on 9/11. Passage of
the Marriage Equality Act represents yet another significant step in
granting full and equal rights to all citizens of New York state.

The Marriage Equality Act bill memo is available here. The bill text is
available here.

By on June 14, 2011, 3:28 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | 5 Comments »

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5 Responses to “Full Steam Ahead on Gay Marriage”

  1. wayne Says:
    June 14th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Note that the law applies only to “civil marriages”. Because religious marriages are unaffected, evangelicals, catholic archbishoprs,divorced ministers have no business making threats against the Senators!!

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