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N.Y. Senators Honored for Marriage Vote

N.Y. Senators Honored for Marriage Vote


The 24 New York state senators who voted in favor of the marriage equality bill last December were collectively honored Friday night at the annual gala of the Long Island GLBT Network. Although the bill failed by a margin of 34-28, the senators in attendance, all Democrats, expressed confidence that a second vote attempt could succeed -- in 2011.

Senators who attended the event in Hauppauge included Tom Duane (pictured), Brian Foley, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Craig Johnson, and Eric Schneiderman.

The irony of receiving an award in spite of the bill's failure to pass on the first try was not lost on the legislators.

"It's kind of like, some people get Noble peace prizes when they're just starting out," said Schneiderman, in reference to President Barack Obama. "This is not that, but ..."

When the senators accepted the award onstage, they acknowledged the immediate challenge of maintaining Democratic control, let alone increasing their 32-30 lead, in elections this November.

"This is a down payment on a 100%, pro-marriage Long Island senate delegation," said Sen. Duane, the bill's openly gay lead sponsor from Manhattan.

Senator Johnson of Nassau County noted a recent victory that increased the number of votes for marriage equality.

"We're now up to 25," said Johnson, referencing the successful effort to prevent ousted former senator Hiram Monserrate from reclaiming his seat in a special election last month. The ex-senator, a Democrat convicted of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend, was defeated by marriage equality advocate Jose Peralta in Queens.

"We're going to get there in 2011," said Johnson.

Other honorees at the 2010 Equality Awards Gala included national LGBT activist Peter Yacobellis, a Long Island native presented with the Homegrown Hero Award, and out daytime actor Thom Bierdz, who plays gay character Phillip Chancellor III on The Young and the Restless.

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