Unless you've been living under a rock (and even then, you probably could have heard the thunderous applause that erupted across the 5 boroughs), you've heard by now that the Marriage Equality bill passed last night in the New York State Senate.
The new law, approved 33 to 29, permits couples of the same gender to marry, and makes New York the largest state where gay men and women have the right to wed. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law at 11:55pm last night; it will go into effect in 30 days.
The vote essentially doubles the number of Americans who can gain access to same-sex marriage licenses, and gives the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born back in 1969 at the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Currently, the District of Columbia and five other states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- grant same-sex marriage licenses.
To celebrate the bill's passage, openly gay District 26 City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria and Maspeth) and his partner, Dan Hendrick, sent out this statement on last night's Senate's vote:
Congratulations to all of our GLBT WLAers on this historic victory for equal rights.
Today, New York made history.
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 justice 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.
There was another kind of history made today as well – the kind recorded not in history books, but in family photographs and genealogies.
For too long, gay and lesbian couples like us were forced to live in the shadows. No matter how long we lived together, no matter how much we loved each other, no matter how committed we were to one another, gay and lesbian relationships rested on a legal house of cards under New York law.
Today, at last, our state government has caught up with the truth that our families, colleagues and neighbors have long known: GLBT citizens deserve the same rights, recognition and respect as every other New Yorker.
This historic moment may never have arrived in New York if it weren’t for the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo. History will recall his courage and determined support, along with that of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and those Assembly Members and Senators who stood up for what is right, particularly Senator Tom Duane and Assembly Members Danny O’Donnell and Deborah Glick.
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.
-Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer & Dan Hendrick, Sunnyside, NY