U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York sent a letter to lawmakers in her state Tuesday urging them to pass the marriage equality bill this year.
Capitol Tonight reports on the letter, in which Gillibrand wrote, “Equal protection under the law has been a hallmark of the American legal, social and political system since the founding of the republic. In this instance, I believe that this principle must be extended to all of those in our state who seek the civil contract of marriage and the numerous legal rights, protections and benefits that only the status of marriage confers.”
The correspondence accompanied a lobby day in Albany sponsored by Marriage Equality New York, which drew around 300 participants, or more than double the number from last year. Advocates feel hopeful about the bill, which failed the senate in 2009, because of support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a vow from Republican majority leader Dean Skelos not to block a vote on the measure. On the other hand, only 26 senators publicly support the bill, which requires 32 votes to pass, and no Republican has confirmed support for the measure. It needs a bipartisan nod in the closely divided chamber where some Democrats oppose the bill.
Also in attendance at the lobby day were Gillibrand staff members and Miss New York Claire Buffie, who competed for Miss America this year on an equality platform.
Appointed to the senate seat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left in 2009, Gillibrand has become a prominent voice for LGBT rights including marriage equality and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The former congresswoman easily won her first statewide election in November, and recent polling showed her approval rating has jumped significantly since the time of her controversial appointment by former Gov. David Paterson.
Charles Schumer, the senior U.S. senator from New York, addressed the annual Human Rights Campaign gala on Saturday and called for marriage equality.