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Decision Day for New York Marriage Equality

June 20, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. - New Yorkers should know by the end of the day today where the Empire State stands on the issue of gay marriage. The governor's proposed Marriage Equality Act would allow same-sex couples to enter into marriage, but not compel clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

Lisa Tyson, executive director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, says everyone should have access to the rights afforded by marriage.

"This really gives civil rights to the gay community, to the community that has really been left out of so many things for so long. As New Yorkers, we must ensure that everyone here has the same rights."

The measure passed the Assembly last week and needs the support of at least 32 Republicans in order to make it through the Senate. Some Republicans have been holding out for stronger language to protect religious institutions. The Act already exempts churches and benevolent organizations from having to recognize or host gay marriage ceremonies.

Tyson says there are important, practical reasons why marriage rights should be universal.

"What this really means is that people are able to be protected, that they have legal rights. If a loved one is in the hospital, they could be visited. If someone passes away, what's going to happen with the estate? These are real life issues affecting everyone, every day."

It will be up to Senate Republicans to decide whether they want to bring the measure to the floor. Gov. Cuomo said he may call lawmakers into a special session if the measure is not brought to a vote by the close of the session tonight.

The act, which is contained in the governor's Program Bill, is available at http://governor.ny.gov/assets/marriageequalitybillmemo.pdf.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY