New York governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of the State address Wednesday and called for the passage of the marriage equality bill in 2011.
Governor Cuomo spoke only one line about marriage equality in the hour-long address in Albany, but the message was emphatically clear.
"We believe in justice for all, then let's pass marriage equality this year once and for all," he said.
Success depends on a vote in the state senate, where the bill failed by a vote of 38-24 in 2009. Republican majority leader Dean Skelos has pledged to allow another vote on the bill, although he personally opposes marriage equality, and no Republican voted for the bill two years ago. Since then, gay groups including the Human Rights Campaign, Fight Back New York, and the Empire State Pride Agenda have demonstrated the electoral power to remove incumbent senators who voted against the bill and replace them with pro-equality lawmakers.
In his address Wednesday, Governor Cuomo, a Democrat and former attorney general, expressed goodwill toward Senator Skelos as both prepare to work on the state's budget crisis in the coming months.
Ross Levi, the executive director of the Pride Agenda and a member of the Cuomo transition team, praised the governor for his speech in a news release.
"The Pride Agenda is very pleased that Governor Cuomo in his State of the State address specifically included LGBT New Yorkers in his vision of a great Empire State," Levi said. "He has strongly and repeatedly shown his support for LGBT fairness and equality, and the affirmation today of his commitment to see marriage for loving same-sex couples become law in New York State is another indication of that support. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy -- and elected officials throughout the state -- to move forward on marriage equality, fighting transgender discrimination and the many other LGBT issues that are supported by a majority of New Yorkers."
The Pride Agenda also noted two other positive steps taken by Governor Cuomo in recent days. Those include the continuation of an executive order first signed by Gov. David Paterson to prohibit discrimination in state employment based on gender identity and expression, and the appointment of Alphonso David, who served as special deputy attorney general for civil rights under Cuomo, to the newly created position of deputy secretary for civil rights.