Thursday, April 16, 2009

NY Gov. Paterson Holds Press Conference - Announces Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

New York Gov. David Paterson, joined by lawmakers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, held a press conference Thursday announcing his decision to officially submit a same-sex marriage bill, forcing the state legislature to take up the issue before it's prepared to do so.

"Silence is not a means for fighting against injustice," said Paterson, referring to the criticism made against Albany after lawmakers decided against making New York the next state allowing same-sex marriage. “What we have is not a crisis of issues; we have a crisis of leadership,” Paterson said. “We’re going to fill that vacuum today. I’m introducing a bill to bring marriage equality to the state of New York.”

"States should not be in the business of deciding who we can and can't marry," added Paterson. "The timing is always right. It's just a matter of who is willing to take the step, and I am."

“When it comes to recognizing civil rights, New York state has always been a leader,” Bloomberg said, citing the fight for women’s suffrage, immigration rights and equal rights for African Americans. “Keeping with that proud history, I agree with the governor that New York should be the next state to allow same-sex marriages.”

The governor faces many challenges, one of his biggest coming from Sen. Ruben Diaz, who is also a pentecostal pastor. He plans to eagerly fight this legislation. He has called on the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization to meet on Thursday, the same day that the bill was introduced according to the New York Daily News.

"I think this is the wrong time to do it," Diaz said, according to the New York Post. He added that the incoming legislation is a particular insult to the newly installed archbishop Timothy Dolan. "[Paterson] is doing this as a welcoming ceremony for the new Catholic? It's ridiculous."

To add to the conflict, Archbishop Timonthy Dolan, who was installed Wednesday as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church of New York, hasn't minced words on his and the church's opposition to same-sex marriage. (See WABC-TV New York's report)

“You’ll find I don’t shy away from those things. I wouldn’t sidestep them,” said Dolan, in a news conference. “You could expect me to articulate that with all the clarity … I can muster.”

Hours before his installation Wednesday, Dolan said he will work with the state’s other Roman Catholic bishops to defeat legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. Paterson, who is expected to attend Dolan’s installation Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is set to introduce a gay marriage bill Thursday.

Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith has said in the past that the senate will only vote on the bill if there is enough support for it to pass; it is currently thought to be several votes short of the necessary threshold for passage.

Elizabeth Benjamin of the Daily News reports,"Sen. Tom Duane, who was initially not pleased with Paterson's decision to push gay marriage, now says he believes the bill will pass "with bipartisan support," although he isn't naming the names of any GOP supporters."

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