Today, the New York State Senate voted 24-38 to defeat a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which has already passed the Assembly three times and has the strong support of Gov. David Paterson (D). It was the first time in history that marriage equality has been put to a vote in the Senate. The Albany Project notes that all 30 Republicans and eight Democrats voted “no.” The defeat of the bill is particularly disappointing to progressives because sponsors believed they had enough votes to pass it. “We said from the start that we weren’t going to take it up until we had the votes to pass it, and we’re taking it up today,” said one Senate Democratic official. After the vote, bill sponsor Sen. Tom Duane (D) said of all the prior commitments that didn’t materialize: “I feel betrayed, and the community should feel betrayed.” Watch the reading of the vote here:
Had the legislation passed, New York would have become the sixth state to recognize marriage equality. Instead, the New York Times reports that the bill is “effectively dead for the year.” A recent Marist poll found that 51 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing same-sex marriage and just 42 percent oppose it. Watch speeches from today’s debate here.
Statement from Paterson below:
“It is always darkest before the dawn. The darkest day in the history of the American civil rights movement was in 1857 when the Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott, making slavery legal north of the 36th parallel. That was the darkest day for the abolitionists. But when we look back in history, we forget that this was only five years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862.
“I understand the anger; I understand the frustration; I understand the feeling of betrayal; and I understand the profound disappointment of those who came to Albany today thinking they could get married tomorrow. But I am also here to tell you that we are not back to square one.
“Governors don’t come to the Senate floor after losing a vote. This one does, because this is a fight that is bigger than one legislative vote. This is a civil rights issue. Marriage equality is as important as the emancipation of any group from oppression and the granting of equal rights to any community.
“I believe in my heart that if people had voted their consciences today, we would be celebrating marriage equality tonight. That did not happen. As disappointed as we are today, let’s get up tomorrow and redouble our efforts. We are going to lay the foundation to make people feel comfortable to vote their conscience and not fear political backlash.
“Now we know who we have to talk to. We are going to quash the intimidation; we are going to alleviate the pressure; we are going to move this issue back to the floor of the Senate and we are going to have marriage equality in New York State and equal rights for everybody.”