ALBANY—The battle over marriage equality in New York is far from over, and new legislation promised by an openly gay state senator, as well as a gay-friendly Cabinet appointment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are setting marriage equality advocates in the state all atwitter that 2011 just may be “the year.”
Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan) on Monday said he plans (“within weeks”) to introduce a bill that would allow New York’s gay and lesbian couples to marry, and will push for a vote on the legislation before the end of June.
A similar bill was defeated in the state Senate in 2009, but many LGBT equaltiy advocates believe N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strong approval ratings and continually vocal support of marriage rights for gay New Yorkers could help sway the state Legislature this time around.
“I think the governor is starting in a strong political place with the people on his side and the wind at his back. That is helpful,” said the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Ross Levi.
Further bolstering LGBT equality advocates’ faith in Gov. Cuomo’s firm support of same-sex marriage is the governor’s hiring of Erik Bottcher, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s liaison to the gay community, to a newly created Cabinet post for community affairs. Though the position does not solely or even specifically, as far as we know, address LGBT issues, marriage equality supporters widely view Bottcher’s appointment as a feather in their proverbial cap.
Republican have regained control of the N.Y. state Senate, which could spell trouble for marriage equality legislation that reaches the floor. However, according to the New York Daily News, “Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau), said his boss opposes gay marriage, but would not block the measure from coming up for a vote.”