Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gay marriage vote a milestone in New York

Washington Post
June 25, 2011

NEW YORK HAS become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Not by court order, but by a vote of 33 to 29 of the state Senate. With leadership from the highest reaches of state government, gay and lesbian couples who longed for the rights and responsibilities, the dignity and respect, that come with marriage will soon be able to do so legally in the Empire State.

New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in allowing gays to wed. A court challenge to a 2008 amendment to the California state constitution that banned gay marriage after a state Supreme Court ruling made it legal there is wending its way through the federal appeals court process. If marriage-equality proponents succeed in the Golden State, 23.3 percent of Americans will live in states where gay couples can legally wed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who took office in January, was a vocal proponent of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York and made passage a priority. He used the bully pulpit to garner public support around the state. He backed that up by using the power and prestige of the governor’s office behind the scenes. Cuomo was personally involved in securing votes until the very end. And a coalition of organizations also conducted the largest grass-roots effort the state had ever seen.