Cuomo: Legislative Momentum Played Big Role In Marriage Equality Victory

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about his success in bringing marriage equality to the Empire State in the January issue of GQ magazine, emphasizing the role legislative momentum from past accomplishments played in pushing the measure over the top. “First, the budget worked,” Cuomo explained. “The budget comes up first—this was February. After the budget, you go through what’s called the legislative session, which is passing the normal bills. That worked. So now you had a sense of momentum. And the body politic was enjoying the success.” He added: “And then we did marriage equality last, which was the hardest of the session issues. But I think at that point there was a lot of energy, a lot of momentum. People—the legislature—liked getting things done.”

Cuomo described his achievement on marriage as a “continuation of a legacy that I learned from Mario Cuomo as a progressive pioneer” and likened it to his father’s “fight on the death penalty, his fight on a woman’s right to choose”:

GQ: Let’s go back to marriage equality. So the timing was good. You had the momentum. You just said, “This has to be done”?

CUOMO: Look, there are issues that come across your desk…that you just say, “This is absurd.” Marriage equality changed life for people. When we did the gay-pride parade after the passage? I can’t tell you how many family members, friends, sisters, and brothers… It provided a level of acceptance for millions of people. And their families.

GQ: And you got the activists to work together—

CUOMO: Yeah. Because they were a fractured group. But I mean, you look at the injustice of the issue. [switches voices, mimicking the opposition] “You can’t get married if you’re gay.” Why? “Well, because you’re gay.” And? “And, well, you can’t make babies.” That’s the argument. Oh, really? So then we should change the law to say, “Only people who can and want to make babies can get married.” So an infertile man can’t. A woman who can’t, she can’t get married. People who don’t want to make a baby, they can’t get married. So let’s change the law so it says, “Only people who can and will make babies.” “Well, we don’t want to do that. You can get married if you don’t want to make a baby or if you can’t—except if you’re gay!” There’s no logic.

Once the state senate approved same-sex marriage on June 24, 2011, the number of Americans living in a state where gay and lesbian people can marry doubled.