After previous attempts failed, the fight to bring marriage equality to New York may be back in Albany sooner rather than later. Word that this might happen has been swirling for awhile, bolstered by Governor Andrew Cuomo's public support of gay marriage, but now, with help from Cuomo's office, things are starting to get serious again.
Gay rights groups have reportedly been meeting with high-level Cuomo aides for the past month to plan their attack. The first step? Four of the bigger groups—the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality New York—have joined together to create a new group, New Yorkers United for Marriage, to organize the fight.
“Last time, there were lots of players, lots of organizations, lots of good will, but not the truly united effort that has come together to work hand in glove with the governor and legislative leaders,” Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry, explained to the Times. This time things will hopefully be different.
The plan is to now raise more than a million dollars in a media blitz, hire a political consultant with ties to Cuomo, and "deploy field organizers to the districts of more than a dozen key lawmakers to drum up support." Unlike last time the groups aim to have a "short, disciplined and intense" run-up to a vote with the hopes of getting equal marriage rights to gay New Yorkers by the summer. That a majority of New Yorkers support such rights certainly should help!
Here's the release that New Yorkers United for Marriage sent out this morning:
"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 to pass legislation to give all New Yorkers the ability marry the person they love."