Tuesday, June 2, 2009

As Time Runs Out, Marriage Equality Debate in New York State Heats Up

Time is running out for the Senate session in New York state, but the sprint towards the finish line is burning up over the debate on the marriage equality bill that has already passed the State Assembly.

On Monday Sen. Tom Duane held a press conference with same-sex couples who want to wed, stating, "I'm saying it publicly, there are enough votes, it's coming to the floor, it's passing." (See video)

Opponents still say it's not going to happen.

"They're telling me that they're not going to vote for it. They don't believe that same sex couples should be able to marry," said Reverend Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. "Marriage has a definite definition of a man and a woman and they don't believe they should be changing that definition, and that homosexuals have the same rights as everybody else to marry as long as it's someone of the opposite sex."

No Republican senators have publicly expressed support for the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), who supports marriage equality, and gay-marriage advocates stopped short of backing Duane's claim, saying only that the measure is gaining momentum.

Several Democratic senators, including Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx and George Onorato of Queens, have said they plan to vote against it.

Diaz, a fierce opponent of marriage equality, accused Duane of skewing the vote tally to force the matter on to the floor.

"It's unprofessional to be playing with people's minds," Diaz said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union also launched a new web site for New Yorkers to lobby state senators to ask for their support of the bill.

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