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New Yorkers Hail Cuomo Win

New Yorkers Hail Cuomo Win

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While LGBT New Yorkers anxiously awaited state senate election results, leaders and activists celebrated the gubernatorial win of Andrew Cuomo, who called his victory a repudiation of divisive politics.

"They thought that they could take our diversity and make it a weakness, but they can't," said Cuomo in his victory speech to Democrats gathered in Midtown Manhattan. As he often did throughout the campaign, he did not mention his chief opponent, Republican Carl Paladino, by name.

"Yes, we are gay and we are straight," he continued. "But we are one state because we are New York."

Cuomo, the projected winner over Republican Carl Paladino, has pledged to make marriage equality a pillar of his reform-minded program for New York. Last week, his running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Robert Duffy, said that a Cuomo administration would approach the bill without hesitation.

The marriage equality bill failed by a 38-24 margin in the state senate last year. As 11 p.m. approached on Tuesday, it remained unclear whether Democrats would be able to maintain and expand their slim 32-30 majority in the chamber, generally considered to be the best scenario for the future of the marriage equality bill in 2011. However, last month Republican leader Dean Skelos said he would recommend that the bill be brought to the floor for an up or down vote should his party win back the majority they held for four decades until 2008.

At the state Democratic Party's election night celebration at the Sheratron New York Hotel and Towers in Midtown Manhattan, where rainbow flags were interspersed with Cuomo-Duffy campaign signs in the ballroom, gay leaders and activists responded with enthusiasm to the news of the Cuomo win.

"It's really exciting," said New York city council speaker Christine Quinn. "To have a governor who not just supports marriage equality but says he is going to sign a marriage equality bill sends a message to the legislators that they need to get the job done and get it done soon."

The Cuomo victory encompassed all sections of the state except for the rural upstate, which Paladino, a businessman from Buffalo, won. Activists greeted the Cuomo win as repudiation of the Republican's highly publicized antigay remarks last month to ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn.

"New Yorkers and particularly LGBT New Yorkers made a resounding statement that we reject the hate that has been spewed throughout this election," said Jeffrey Campagna, the founder of The Power.

Meanwhile, strategists looked ahead to results in the senate races, with confidence enhanced by the Cuomo win.

Brian Ellner, the senior strategist for the HRC Campaign for New York Marriage, welcomed Cuomo as "a strong pro-equality governor-elect who pledged to deliver marriage equality."

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