New York Freedom to Marry Win Builds National Momentum


Number of Americans Living in States with the Freedom to Marry More Than Doubles

Press Contact:
Jackie Yodashkin
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry

(New York, NY, June 24 2011) – In a resounding win for the freedom to marry movement, 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 transformative 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 corporate leaders and labor unions, including very strong leadership by SEIU 1199, 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.  “The surge in new support and this epic win in New York add to the momentum for the work ahead: ending the cruel exclusion from marriage in other states, and overturning the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denies married gay and lesbian couples -- even in New York and other states that issue marriage licenses without discrimination – the safety-net of protections and responsibilities marriage brings at the federal level.”

The New York freedom to marry bill passed Assembly in a 80-63 vote and then the Republican-led Senate by 33-29.  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 shape 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 over $1,000,000 in the campaign, including more than $500,000 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 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.  “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.”  


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.