New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a speech to 150 invited guests yesterday that called on lawmakers in the state to pass legislation granting same-sex couples the right to marry.
In the nearly 20 minute speech, Bloomberg spoke directly to fellow Conservatives and particularly state senators that remain undecided or, as he described it, “torn” on the issue, saying: “It is my hope that members of the state senate majority will recognize that supporting marriage equality is not only consistent with our civic principles. It is consistent with conservative principles. Conservatives believe that government should not intrude into people’s personal lives — and it’s just none of government’s business who you love.”
He also reminded those concerned about their religious rights that marriage equality legislation would not force them to perform or take part in the enactment or recognition of a same-sex marriage if it is against their interpretation of their religious beliefs.
Bloomberg also spoke rather more personally, saying that he is “passionate” about the issue because the “the status quo” causes pain to someone close to him — his niece Rachel who, like all other gay New Yorkers cannot get married within the state. Bloomberg said he cannot say to gay and lesbians like Rachel that the “government is correct in denying them the right to marry. I cannot tell them that marriage is not for them. I cannot tell them that a civil union is good enough.”
If you have the time, you can watch the full speech below:
While the speech has been welcomed by many in the LGBT community, Bloomberg has received some criticism however that this speech amounts to very little when, as Andy Humm of Gay City News points out, he has used his considerable wealth to fund Republican lawmakers who actively oppose marriage equality in the state as well as other LGBT rights measures. Hopefully this speech is a signal that Bloomberg will put his advocacy in action and perhaps consider more carefully who he chooses to back in future.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also released a video this week in support of marriage equality.
Cuomo has said that passing a marriage equality bill is a priority, but the legislative session ends June 20 and so far not a single Republican supporter has been found in the Senate where a similar measure was defeated in 2009 and where bipartisan support will be vital if the bill is to pass the GOP-controlled chamber.