VICTORY: New York Senate passes marriage bill

In a resounding win for the freedom to marry movement in the United States, the New York legislature today sent a marriage bill to Governor Cuomo’s desk that, when signed, will more than double the number of Americans living in a state with the freedom to marry for all committed, loving couples.

"Winning the freedom to marry in New York truly is a watershed moment for committed couples and for our country, a triumph for love and equality under the law,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.  “Now that we’ve made it here, we’ll make it everywhere -- and as Americans’ hearts open and minds continue to change in favor of the freedom to marry, the momentum coming from New York’s giant step forward brings a nationwide end to marriage discrimination closer than ever.”

The New York victory represents a number of historic firsts:

  • For the first time, a Republican-led chamber, the New York State Senate, joined the Democrat-led Assembly in passing marriage legislation;
  • The marriage bill was strongly championed by a governor who ran for office on his pledge to pass a bill and then campaigned steadily for it, making it one of his top priorities and committing political capital to its passage;
  • A large number of America’s most prominent businesses including Xerox Corporation, Alcoa, and McGraw-Hill, and the heads of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup, along with New York’s most important labor unions, urged passage of the bill;    
  • And numerous professional athletes, including NBA star Steve Nash, New York Rangers star Sean Avery, and New York Giants great Michael Strahan, joined the chairman of the New York Giants and owner of the New Jersey Nets in speaking out for the bill.
“This unprecedented support from Republicans, corporations, and even pro athletes demonstrates how mainstream ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage has become,” said Wolfson. “We are especially grateful for Governor Cuomo’s strategic and passionate leadership in advancing this bill.  He worked tirelessly with Freedom to Marry and other advocates to secure the votes we needed to win.  No governor has ever worked harder or more strategically to advance marriage legislation.” 

The marriage bill passed the Republican-led Senate by 33-29 and then the Assembly in a 80-63 vote.  With this win, the number of Americans living in states with the freedom to marry more than doubles, from 16 million to 35 million.

Freedom to Marry helped lead on every front of the campaign to win marriage in New York. As a founding member of the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition, Freedom to Marry played a key leadership role in guiding and investing in the coalition's work to win.  Freedom to Marry invested approximately one million dollars in the campaign, including more than half a million for television, newspaper ads, and direct mail, and over $100,000  in polling, all aimed at making sure legislators heard from the couples affected, their loved ones, and the 58% of New Yorkers who support the freedom to marry.

“With the freedom to marry in New York, the nationwide majority support for marriage will swell, as even more people get to see why marriage matters to same-sex couples, that gay couples, like non-gay, treasure the chance to affirm and strengthen their commitment, and that ending marriage discrimination helps families and hurts no one ” said Wolfson.  “This win in New York adds to the momentum for the work ahead: ending the cruel exclusion from marriage in so many other states, and tackling and ending  federal marriage discrimination under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, under which so much of the crucial safety-net that marriage is intended to provide continue to be denied to married gay and lesbian couples”
If you are New York City, march with Freedom to Marry, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New Yorkers United for Marriage in the Pride Parade.  Meet us on Sunday, June 26 at 11am on 40th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues.  We’re in Section 1 and should step off not too long after the parade begins at 12noon. 
The New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition is also organizing victory celebrations in all regions of the state. Click here to find information about events near you.