In an historic vote late in the evening on Tuesday, June 19, the New York State Assembly approved legislation guaranteeing marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.
The measure was approved by a vote of 85 to 61 after a floor debate that lasted more than three hours.
- New York State Assembly Approves Gay Marriage Law, Gay City News
Approval of the measure in the Assembly, even with its overwhelming Democratic majority, marks a dramatic turnaround for the cause of marriage equality in New York, coming less than a year after the Court of Appeals, in a 4 to 2 vote, rejected the claim that the fundamental right to marry recognized in the state Constitution extends to an individual's right to marry someone of the same sex.
Prior to this week, only in California - where the Senate and Assembly passed a gay marriage bill in 2005, which was vetoed by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - has a legislative body in the U.S. affirmatively embraced equal civil marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
With Assembly passage secured, marriage equality advocates now turn their attention to the tougher task of moving the state Senate, where Republicans hold a two-seat majority and whose leader, Joe Bruno, from upstate Rensselaer County, has stated his firm opposition. Senator Tom Duane, an out gay Chelsea Democrat, sponsors a marriage bill that is nearly identical to the Spitzer-O'Donnell measure that passed the Assembly, for which he has lined up 18 co-sponsors in the 62-seat chamber.
Nobody expects that bill to make significant headway, however, as long as Bruno stays in charge of the Senate.