Leading Gay Rights Groups Form Coalition to Pass Marriage Legislation in New York

4/20/2011

'New Yorkers United for Marriage' Launches Campaign Aimed at Making Marriage a Reality for All New Yorkers

(NEW YORK) – Riding a wave of popular support behind marriage for gay and lesbian couples, New York's leading LGBT rights organizations today announced the formation of a coalition to ensure the passage of marriage equality legislation during the 2011 session.

New Yorkers United for Marriage, an unprecedented alliance that includes Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign and Marriage Equality New York will build on the growing momentum for marriage and groundwork already laid across the state - with the goal of enacting a bill before the end of the current legislative session.

"Today, we stand closer than ever to allowing all loving, committed couples to legally marry here in New York," said Ross Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. "We've sent a loud and clear message during the last two years that supporting the LGBT community isn't just the right thing to do, but it's also good politics, and this unprecedented coalition will amplify that message.”  

The new partnership comes amid polls showing an unprecedented and growing majority of New Yorkers – 58 percent – in favor of legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and Governor Cuomo’s making marriage equality a priority of his legislative agenda.

"A super-majority of New Yorkers support the freedom to marry and look to Albany to get the job done now,” said Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry.  "From Canada to Connecticut, this state's neighbors have ended the exclusion of committed couples from marriage, and families are helped and no one hurt.  It's time for New York's lawmakers to pass the marriage bill that New Yorkers want and families need."

This growing support in the Empire State matches up with recent polls across the nation that find a record high majority of Americans lining up to support marriage for gay and lesbian couples and a national tenor that every day grows more accepting and less divisive.

“There’s never been a better time to move this bill,” said Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign. “We have built a smart and disciplined coalition; in Governor Cuomo, we have a strong, committed leader; and we know the people of New York believe it’s time. HRC has been here from the beginning, and we’re not leaving until it’s done.”

On a national level, from the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ to the Obama administration’s decision not to defend DOMA, the LGBT community has made major, across-the-board gains. For the first time ever, a majority of Americans support marriage.

In New York, LGBT advocates have grown increasingly strategic and effective in the last two years, successfully targeting anti-gay legislators and contributing to the election of pro-marriage senators. The coalition will expand on these successes to ensure that legislators hear from the majority of New Yorkers who support the right to marry.

"This coalition will be able to effectively rally the majority of New Yorkers who favor marriage equality, from the grassroots to influential opinion-makers," said Cathy Marino-Thomas of Marriage Equality New York. "The time is now for leaders in Albany pass legislation to give all New Yorkers the ability marry the person they love."

###

New Yorkers United for Marriage is a coalition of leading New York LGBT rights organizations fighting so that all couples in New York State have the freedom to marry the person they love.

The Empire State Pride Agenda is the statewide civil rights and advocacy group committed to achieving full equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and our families. For twenty years we have been educating policymakers, elected officials and the public, building coalitions and mobilizing allies, lobbying government officials, administering a Political Action Committee, and organizing and empowering the LGBT community.

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Marriage Equality New York (MENY) is a grassroots, volunteer based, single-issue organization dedicated to securing the right for all New Yorkers to enter into legally recognized civil marriages. With local chapters throughout New York State, MENY is leading the fight for equality, helping educate local and state politicians and candidates to support equal marriage rights legislation.