Gay Marriage Law Hailed
Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, LeFrak City, Corona, Rego Park, and Woodside) was joined by his colleague in the council, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria, and Maspeth), Van Bramer’s partner, Daniel Hendrick, state Senator José Peralta (D-13th state senate district) and Rabbi Laura Cohen on Saturday, June 25 in celebrating the passage of the Marriage Equality Act. The measure passed the state Assembly by a vote of 80 in favor, 63 opposed on Wednesday, June 15 and on Friday, June 24, following prolonged and sometimes bitter debate, the state senate passed the bill by a 33-to-29 vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law at 11:55 p.m. that same day; it will go into effect in 30 days.
Passage of the bill made New York the sixth and largest state to date to sanction same-sex marriage. The states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as Washington, D.C., also legally recognize same-sex marriage. Cuomo produced a long-awaited proposal requiring the same legal rights for same-sex couples who marry as those extended to heterosexual couples in New York on June 14. He termed Marriage Equality “a matter of fairness and legal security for thousands of families in this state—not of religion or culture”.
“I have always believed that in order to bring about real change, one must affect the political structure,” Dromm said after the bill was enacted Friday night. “The fight for marriage equality has been long and hard but tonight, thanks to grassroots community activism and the legion of groups that worked together as a united front to demand from their government justice and fairness, we have inched closer as a society to fulfilling America’s promise of equality. As an openly gay elected official and longtime gay rights activist, I am ecstatic about tonight’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of New York. It is truly a historic moment for our LGBT community and one that marks a momentous civil rights victory. I’d like to thank the elected officials that stood on the right side of history and finally realized that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are also their family, friends and neighbors.”
“Today, New York made history,” Van Bramer and Hendrick said in a joint statement Friday after Cuomo signed the bill into law. “By lifting this barrier to equal rights, our state has made a clear and forceful declaration that there must be no second-class New Yorkers. Today has been a day when our greatest ideals were on display— ideals like ‘liberty and jus- tice for all’ and the unshakable belief that ‘all men are created equal’. This struggle has been long, and change is always difficult. We are proud that New York has debated this issue in an atmosphere of respect. But as evidenced today, the march toward greater freedom and fairness, toward true equality under the law, cannot be stopped until all of us are truly free. With today’s vote, New York has reclaimed its proper role as a beacon for civil rights and equality—a proud example that we hope may inspire our federal government and state governments around the country to follow suit.”
Republican state Senators James Alesi of Rochester, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Roy McDonald of Saratoga Springs and Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie broke ranks with their colleagues to give the bill one vote more than was needed for it to pass. Two years ago, every Republican in the state senate, then controlled by Democrats, voted against a similar bill, easily defeating it. That opposition has since been considered to have been shortsighted in an economic as well as a sociological sense.
Peralta hailed the bill’s passage as a historic moment. “We made history Friday and I’m proud to have been a part of it,” he said in a statement. “The governor’s leadership was the difference this time. It was good to be back in the district Saturday to celebrate the victory with friends and colleagues.”