Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NY State Assembly Passes Marriage Equality 89-52, On to Tough Senate

After three hours of debate, the New York State Assembly passed the marriage equality bill proposed by Gov. David Paterson as expected, with a vote 89-52, increasing the equality margin from a 2007 marriage vote of 85-61. The next step for passage lies in the senate where it faces an uphill battle.

Five members who had voted "no" changed their votes - two Republicans: Fred Thiele and Janet Duprey, bringing the total number of GOP "yes" votes to five; two Democrats: Sandy Galef and Bob Reilly; and one Independence Party member, Tim Gordon.

From a great report from the PolitickerNY:
ALBANY—The debate on the same-sex marriage bill in the State Assembly began at 4:52 p.m., with bill sponsor Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell [Rose O'Donnell's brother] calmly answering questions from Assemblyman Jack Quinn.

Their exchange was respectful, and at times funny. The first strong position was taken by Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, a Long Island Republican, who opposed the bill because he said it would force organizations or public accommodations with a religious belief—say, a Knights of Columbus Hall—to accept same-sex couples. His exchange with O'Donnell grew heated.

"By conferring a marriage license, we are saying that marriage is equal for heterosexuals as well as homosexuals," Fitzpatrick said. "And the problem I have is that, while the law cannot force any religious organization to solemnize or legitimize homosexual marriage, it will force society to recognize the legitimacy of homosexual marriage."

He wondered if there could be a provision for "conscientious objection" by some institutions. O'Donnell said this amounted to discrimination.

"The laws of discrimination and the human rights are what they are," he replied.

"What you're attempting to do is to legislate discrimination," Fitzpatrick replied.

"This is not about anybody's religion," O'Donnell replied. "I am entitled to the same paper you have, Michael, whether you want me to or not."

Fitzpatrick continued, saying a catering hall, for example, "has a right, I think, to discriminate on those grounds, if it is a religious institution."

"You ought to go to law school and read the law," O'Donnell replied. "You want to change the human rights law or the discrimination law, you can put in a bill to do that."

"I disagree, Dan, because I think there is a coming collision between what you're attempting to do and every faith that does not agree with gay marriage. This will be tested in court," Fitzpatrick replied.
A few moments later, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat and Orthodox Jew, rose. It was he who had made the comment to which Titone referred.

"It is about God," he said, waving a leather-bound copy of the Book of Leviticus. "It is about what I believe God wants. And I don't separate, you know, being the political figure and being the individual. How do you do that?"

"God is not a politician, to the best of my knowledge God does not flip-flop on the issues, either," he continued, referencing a letter he and colleagues received today from Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. "Suddenly Gillibrand is telling me that I should support gay marriage. I would love to know how she came to that conclusion on her own. I'm sure politics played absolutely no role. I'm sure it was about principal, about morality, about being fair."
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin:

Stay tuned for the drama in the senate. And keep your eye out for that crazy, anti-gay senator Ruben Diaz.

In the meantime, go to a rally to persuade resistant senators to vote for equality!Broadway Impact is sponsoring a rally after Sunday’s AIDS Walk:

WHEN: Sunday, May 17th, 5:00 to 7:00 PM
WHERE: 6th Avenue at 45th Street


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