Game On, New York

As the New York legislature comes back into session this week, Freedom to Marry and New Yorkers United for Marriage—the new coalition we founded with Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Log Cabin Republicans New York, and Marriage Equality New York—are stepping up our campaign to move a marriage bill in Albany and get it to Governor Cuomo’s desk.  No battle to pass marriage legislation is easy—our electeds are still catching up with the public, which supports the freedom to marry nationally at 53 percent and in New York at a 58 percent (only 36% opposed).  But in New York, we have the right mix of forces that give us a serious shot at a game-changing victory. A New York victory now would mean more than a doubling of the number of Americans who live in a state that has ended marriage discrimination.  
Why do we think we have a strong shot? Here are a few reasons: 
  • Leadership. Governor Andrew Cuomo is working very hard to pass a bill this session.  He’s tasked his senior staff to work closely with advocates to ensure that, together, we have an all-out effort that gives us the best chance to win.  After passing a budget in near-record time, his political capital and popularity are at very high levels.  So his personal and outspoken leadership should give all of us confidence that this opportunity is real.  
  • Work on the Ground. The grassroots organizing that’s taking place in key legislative districts is spot-on.  Through the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition, there’s a band of HRC and Pride Agenda organizers on the ground collecting post cards and letters to lawmakers, going door-to-door, organizing couples to meet with lawmakers, finding businesses that will speak out about why marriage is important, enlisting “grasstop” leaders like clergy and local electeds—all focused on making the case to lawmakers who have not yet voted for the freedom to marry. 
  • Electoral Muscle. Making the case to lawmakers in their districts is one thing; showing them that a vote against the freedom to marry could be costly to their political future is another.  Both are essential, but nothing shows clout more than playing a crucial electoral role.  After the 2009 loss in the state Senate, advocates established the Fight Back New York PAC, which spent nearly $800,000 defeating four anti-equality lawmakers and replacing them with stalwart supporters, netting our side three new votes.  In a game of numbers, those votes themselves are crucial, but perhaps even more important is the message that we’ve sent to Albany that our community is serious about a win, and that that we will work hard in elections to bring one about. 
  • Coordination. When we announced New Yorkers United for Marriage just two weeks ago, many people asked how we pulled it off—how we were able to put down organizational differences and come together.    Our answer—and the answer of every one of the groups that is engaged: how could we not?   The stars are aligned and we have a real shot—not a guarantee, not a slam dunk, but a real, legitimate shot.  How could we let anything get in the way of putting our best efforts forward?     So we’re working hard to avoid duplication, ramp up the needed work and fundraising,  ensure our efforts are complementing one another’s, share credit—all with the all-out focus on bringing about a win now.   
As for Freedom to Marry, along with working hard to craft and fund the “air cover” of paid media that our coalition will put forward to support the “ground game” of organizing and calls to legislators,  today we’re launching an online ad campaign encouraging people in key legislative districts to contact their lawmakers. In this online campaign, Freedom to Marry is telling the story of a New York couple, Richard Adrian Dorr and John Mace, who have been together for 61 years.  Check out our short video Richard and John – Haven’t They Waited Long Enough?  
Click to share the video with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and by email.
Starting this week, this campaign will heat up.  We can expect that our opponents will be back to their old tricks and ugly scare-tactics.  We need all hands on deck to secure this victory.  We need you to give generously to support the coalition’s media campaign.   New Yorkers, we need you to contact your lawmakers and let them know why marriage is important to you.  And everyone else, we need you to engage your friends and family members who live in New York to urge them to take action.  

Now is the time.  The freedom to marry is within grasp for the 19.4 million residents of the Empire State.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and bring home a win.