NY Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Elizabeth's picture

Something new to be proud of during Pride Month!

The New York State Assembly voted to approve marriage equality legislation with bipartisan support. This is a first in the country. When MA legalized marriage for same-sex couples it did so through the courts (though the legislature recently protected that decision) and in CA where marriage equality legislation was passed and then vetoed by the governor, not a single Republican voted for the bill. 85 assembly members voted in favor of the legislation, including four Republicans, while 61 voted against. That's the good news.

The bad news, as noted in this article in The Advocate, is that common wisdom holds that the legislation, which would give same-sex couples the same access to marriage that opposite-sex couples have, will be impossible to pass in the Senate, where there is a very slim Republican majority.

One key to passing legislation that is aimed at equalizing righs between groups is to make the oppressed group real in the eyes of the dominant group. Daniel O'Donnell, repersenting part of Manhattan, knew this, and he's quoted in this article at GayCityNews.com explaining just how important that was:

"It is extraordinarily important to have actual, real live gay people in the legislative body who can speak to the issue," O'Donnell told Gay City News hours before the vote. "It gets past the esoteric arguments about equality, which are important, but they are not the same thing as saying, 'I want this.' It's not the same as, 'This is important to me.' On the floor today, I'm going to talk about John and how we've been together for 26 years and about my fear of going out one day and getting hit by a bus and not having taken care of my partner."

So the fight moves to the Senate now, and people believe that as long as Bruno runs the Senate there can be no progress. I'm not so sure. I think if O'Donnell's strategy worked in the Assembly a similar strategy can work in the Senate. Watch this page for "calls for action" in the Senate. In the meantime, collect the stories -- your own and others -- that will help make Senators see that these are "real live people" we are talking about.