In 2007, the Assembly passed a similar marriage equality bill, 85 to 61, with bipartisan support. Today's vote of 89 to 52 also gained approval from majority and minority members from throughout the state.
"This is a matter of equity and justice. New Yorkers should have the right to marry whom they chose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples," said Silver (D-Manhattan).
"The Assembly cast another vote today for equality, and sent a strong message that our state must no longer exclude citizens from basic rights and protections. Our constitution and our consciences demand action," said O'Donnell (D-Manhattan). "It is impossible to ignore the pleas of parents who want their children to be treated equally under the law and individuals who want nothing more than to protect their partners and families."
The bill (A.7732) would amend the Domestic Relations Law, to give same-sex couples the opportunity to legally marry in New York State and make all provisions of state law applicable to same-sex marriages. The measure specifically provides that no member of the clergy can be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.
When the Assembly last passed marriage equality in 2007, Massachusetts was the only state that allowed same-sex marriage. Today, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine permit same-sex marriages. While laws in Connecticut and Iowa were implemented by judicial decision, Vermont and Maine passed measures through their respective state legislatures. Both houses in New Hampshire have also passed a same-sex marriage bill, which is awaiting approval or veto by their governor.
California courts consented to marriage between same-sex partners for five months last year before the approval of a statewide referendum that instructs the state government to acknowledge only marriages between a man and a woman.
O'Donnell continued, "Many of my colleagues who voted yes are individuals of profound faith who were able to draw a distinction between civil and religious marriage. I commend every one of them for casting this courageous vote."
Silver noted the changed political landscape since the last Assembly vote, in 2007. Residents in urban, suburban and rural areas all over New York State contacted their Assemblymembers, urging them to approve the marriage equality legislation.
Governor Paterson issued a directive to state agencies last year to recognize all marriages performed outside the state, including same-sex marriages performed in Canada or the few states that can be legally solemnized. Some municipalities in New York State offer domestic partnership registries for the purposes of benefits, but civil unions are not offered under New York State law.