NYCLU: Senate's Failure to Pass Marriage is Disappointing, but Only a Temporary Setback

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
December 2, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today denounced the State Senate’s failure to pass legislation to give lesbian and gay couples the ability to marry in New York State, but expressed confidence that the marriage bill will pass in the near future.

“Today’s Senate vote is painfully disappointing given our state’s proud history of promoting fairness and justice for gay and lesbian people and other minority groups,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “But this is only a temporary setback in our campaign to protect all New York families. The majority of New Yorkers support fair marriage laws that protect lesbian and gay families, and the day will come when we achieve that goal.”

The Senate rejected the marriage bill in a 38 to 24 vote. The State Assembly passed the marriage bill in May and again early this morning in an extraordinary session, and Governor Paterson had pledged his support for it.

“While we are disappointed by today’s vote, we find some solace that the marriage bill was at last debated on the floor of the New York State Senate, and we applaud the many senators who spoke eloquently and with conviction in standing up for all of New York’s families,” Lieberman said. “We know that it is just a matter of time before marriage between same-sex couples is legal in New York.”

Marriages between lesbian and gay New Yorkers entered into out-of-state are recognized in New York thanks to a 2008 NYCLU legal victory in Martinez v. County of Monroe. Following that victory, Governor Paterson directed all state agencies to revise their policies to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. Since then, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa have legalized marriage for lesbian and gay couples, but New Yorkers remain unable to get married at home.

“This is a sad day for our state and a sad day for my family,” said Brooklyn resident Annie Keating. Keating and her partner, Kim, have been together since 1997 and are the parents of two children, 7-year-old Natalie and 2-year-old Luke. She said getting married at home in New York is crucial for the family’s protection. “This vote means that New York is far from what it could be, and far from what it should be – a place where all families are respected and valued. What message does it send to our children when our lawmakers refuse to stand up for fairness, equality and respect for all people?”

In June, the NYCLU launched, a website featuring a dozen New York couples explaining why marriage matters to them.

“We will continue working tirelessly to persuade lawmakers that offering the protections of marriage to one class of citizens, while denying them to another, is unfair and inconsistent with this state’s core values,” Lieberman said. “It is just a matter of time before all New York families enjoy the dignity respect and legal rights marriage provides.”

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