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New York Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Act Following Gaga Debate

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Act Following Gaga Debate

Wednesday saw lawmakers in New York’s Democratically-controlled Assembly pass Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s program bill to legalize marriage equality by a bipartisan 80-63 vote. The four hour debate ranged from the impassioned but largely civil to the absolute gaga… Lady Gaga that is, when the pop mega-star’s name (and face) made a surprise appearance.

Orthodox Jewish assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Boro Park) started off seriously enough. Keen to ward off accusations that he might be closed-minded for saying his religion forbids him approving the bill, Hikind went on the offensive saying that criticism for his belief against marriage equality was “unfair” because redefining marriage is “unbelievable” and, he argued, an affront to God.

He then proceeded to pull out a poster of Mother Monster. While holding the picture of Gaga, in which she appeared wearing her now famous telephone head adornment, Hikind said: “When Lady Gaga got involved and told us and said we should support gay marriage, I said, you know, Lady Gaga, she is an example of how I should lead my life and how I should behave.”

Other lawmakers distanced themselves from this rhetoric, with Joel Miller (R-I-C) saying the religious argument against marriage equality was “the most ridiculous” he had ever heard and that such lines of reasoning would eventually lead to bloodshed.

More positive aspects of the debate from The Advocate:

Naomi Rivera, who represents the same South Bronx area as Ruben Diaz Sr., the only Democratic senator to oppose the bill, said she had received thousands of messages against it, but she would yes for the sake of her 11-year-old child.

“I’ve been given the responsibility to help pave the way for the future generation for my son,” she said. 

During the campaign, advocates have repeatedly referred to polls that show record majorities of New York voters now support marriage equality. At least one surprise vote provided evidence of the point.

“Things change,” said Nick Perry of Brooklyn, who voted against the bill three previous times, as he cast his first yes vote to applause in the chamber.

The Assembly was able to vote on the bill after speaker Sheldon Silver sent a message of necessity to Gov. Cuomo in order to bypass the standard three-day waiting period on a program bill, highlighting that the June 20 end of session deadline is fast approaching.

With that in mind, it is still not clear whether Senate Republicans, who enjoy a slim majority in the upper chamber, will even allow the bill to come to the Senate floor.

From Times Union:

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos , R-Long Island, met privately with his conference for four hours to discuss whether to bring the bill to the floor. Two Republican senators have declared their support for the bill, introduced Tuesday, but it has only 31 publicly declared supporting votes — one shy of the tally needed for passage.

 

But Skelos controls if the bill will come to the Senate floor. He predicted earlier in the week that it might be considered on Friday, but after the marathon GOP conclave Wednesday said tersely, “We will continue to conference the issue tomorrow.”

Skelos said the internal debate was “tremendous” and “thoughtful.” Most GOP senators kept details of the meeting in confidence, but others allowed that members aired concerns that the bill did not contain adequate legal exemptions for religious institutions that have beliefs incompatible with same-sex marriage.

“There’s a process,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island. “One of the hallmark issues for our country is that faiths need to be respected.”

 

[Read more at Times Union.]

 

If the bill does reach the floor, advocates are cautiously optimistic that marriage equality has the votes to pass. As of Tuesday, 31 votes have been secured with two Republican senators making a commitment to passing the legislation. One more vote is needed to pass the legislation and other Republican senators have reportedly admitted that four or possibly five conservative senators may be inclined to vote for the bill, especially if further religious carveouts are made. Read more on that here.

TAKE ACTION: Live in New York? Contact your senators today and tell them you support marriage equality.

For previous coverage of efforts to legalize marriage equality in New York, please click here.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.

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32 comments

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10:39AM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

I agree , there is no turning back now.

1:33PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Mirabile dictu!

8:41PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Wooo Hoooo!!

5:44PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Awesome!

5:12PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

What more religious exemptions do the GOP Senators need? The bill already provides that no religious organization will be required to perform same sex marriages, nor will any be forced to allow the use of their facilities for the purpose. This "more should be done" without specifying what that "more" is constitutes a craven smokescreen.

4:38PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Ditto Mimi...fingers crossed

4:21PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

New York? Lady Gaga? Equality?
From Barcelona, gay capital of the Mediterranean, I take my hat off! You've just shown a lot of style and dignity,
Whether it passes or not, there's no turnin' back.
Thanks!
ianfletcherif@hotmail.com Barcelona

3:08PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Way to go, New York!

1:44PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Thanks for the article and information.

11:17AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Great news! I liked the part about voting "yes" for her child's future, and the "things change" comment. Things do change, thankfully.

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