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Bloomberg goes
both ways

Bloomberg goes
both ways

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Speaking at an HRC dinner, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg earned cheers and jeers for saying he personally supports same-sex marriage on the same day he said he'd appeal a pro-gay marriage court decision

While some of New York's most powerful and well-heeled gays and lesbians dined on roast beef at the Human Rights Campaign's fourth annual Greater New York Gala Dinner on Saturday, February 5, Mayor Michael Bloomberg moved directly to dessert. On the subject of marriage equality, he had his cake and ate it too. "I have said it in private...and I'm going to say it to you right now here. I think people have the right to love, to live with, and to marry whoever they want, regardless of their sexual orientation," he told the crowd gathered in the ballroom of Manhattan's luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The problem was, Bloomberg was speaking on the evening of the same day he announced that the city of New York would appeal the February 4 New York supreme court decision ruling in favor of same-sex couples' right to marry. In a 62-page opinion written by Judge Doris Ling-Cohan, the court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny anyone the many benefits of marriage on the basis of the spouse's gender. "Under both the federal and New York state constitutions, it is beyond question that the right to liberty, and the concomitant right to privacy, extend to protect marriage," the decision read. By addressing both the city's appeal of that decision and his personal support for marriage equality, Bloomberg faced a crowd that gave him standing ovations at some points and booed him loudly at others. Bloomberg explained the apparent discrepancy between his actions and his beliefs by saying he felt that appealing the decision was the best way to ensure New York marriage licenses would not be invalidated like the ones issued in California last year when Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco disobeyed state law and married more than 4,000 same-sex couples. Newsom was forced to halt the marriages, and the licenses issued by San Francisco were invalidated by the California supreme court. "I don't want to see happen here what happened in California," Bloomberg said. "The people were misled into thinking that licenses issued while the case was still going on in the court were valid regardless of a later decision. That caused a great deal of confusion and pain. People had their great joy snatched away from them.... No one wants to see that happen here. That's why the city is going to appeal the decision." But while Bloomberg may spare New Yorkers the pain of having their marriage licenses invalidated, appealing the decision brings the case up for review by the New York court of appeals, the state's highest court. The lower court's decision could be overturned, meaning no licenses could be issued at all. The division in opinion on what the city should do was clear even among the event's other honorees. New York City Council speaker Gifford Miller, who took the stage after Bloomberg, accused the mayor of working against same-sex marriage. "I'm incredibly disappointed that he's using my taxpayer dollars and the power of his office over the last year to fight in court against our right to marry, and he has chosen to appeal the [February 4] decision," Miller said. "If he thinks that the people in California are disappointed because after the mayor of San Francisco married them they had their rights taken away from them, he's right. But it wasn't because of the licenses, it's because their rights were taken away from them." Bloomberg did assure the crowd that the case will be expedited as quickly as possible to the highest court, so either way the final decision falls, it will come soon.

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