The New York Senate rejected a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the Empire State by a vote of 38-24 after a passionate debate on the floor earlier today. Today's vote was the culmination of months of heated political battles by both parties, anti-gay rhetoric from Senate opposition, and tireless efforts on behalf of Gov. David Patterson to ensure the bills passage.
Gov Patterson released this statement following the vote:
“It is always darkest before the dawn. The darkest day in the history of the American civil rights movement was in 1857 when the Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott, making slavery legal north of the 36th parallel. That was the darkest day for the abolitionists. But when we look back in history, we forget that this was only five years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862.
“I understand the anger; I understand the frustration; I understand the feeling of betrayal; and I understand the profound disappointment of those who came to Albany today thinking they could get married tomorrow. But I am also here to tell you that we are not back to square one.
“Governors don’t come to the Senate floor after losing a vote. This one does, because this is a fight that is bigger than one legislative vote. This is a civil rights issue. Marriage equality is as important as the emancipation of any group from oppression and the granting of equal rights to any community.
“I believe in my heart that if people had voted their consciences today, we would be celebrating marriage equality tonight. That did not happen. As disappointed as we are today, let’s get up tomorrow and redouble our efforts. We are going to lay the foundation to make people feel comfortable to vote their conscience and not fear political backlash.
“Now we know who we have to talk to. We are going to quash the intimidation; we are going to alleviate the pressure; we are going to move this issue back to the floor of the Senate and we are going to have marriage equality in New York State and equal rights for everybody.”
The Senate debate on marriage equality was streamed live over the internet and received over 10,000 views setting a record for the most watched Senate hearing to date.
African-American Senators Eric Adams and Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson proved to be strong straight allies as they offered two of the most powerful speeched in support of marriage equality during today's debate. I urge you to watch both.