New York Democrats back gay marriage
Leaders of New York's Democratic Party unanimously approved a resolution Monday supporting a bill allowing same-sex marriages in the state. "This legislation helps right a longtime wrong and simply provides same-sex couples with the same legal protections, rights, and responsibilities that heterosexual couples acquire when they marry," said Herman Farrell Jr., state party chairman and a state assemblyman from Manhattan. The resolution was adopted during the Democrats' semiannual organizational meeting.
The vote was the first time the state party had called for legalizing gay marriage. But Emily Giske, vice chairwoman of the party, said the resolution is in line with other stands Democrats have taken in favor of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act and other state laws that ensure equal treatment for same-sex couples. "Lesbian and gay partners have long been treated like second-class couples under current state law," Giske said. "There is no reason that they should not be granted equal civil status."
The Empire State Pride Agenda praised Democratic leaders for recognizing the "simple truth" that a union between homosexuals can constitute a marriage and family like a heterosexual union. "Civil marriage is the primary way in which government grants hundreds and hundreds of benefits and protections to Americans and their families," said Alan Van Capelle, ESPA's executive director. "To allow some families to have access to these while denying others creates two classes of citizens--one less equal than the other."
The same-sex marriage bill was introduced earlier this year in each chamber of the legislature but failed to get out of committee during the lawmakers' regular 2003 session. It is sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and state senator Thomas Duane, both Manhattan Democrats. Duane is one of three openly gay members of the legislature.