All Rights reserved
President Bill Clinton endorsed marriage equality legislation in New York as it appears increasingly likely that lawmakers will vote on the measure by June.
Clinton, a popular figure in the Democratic Party, announced his support in a statement released by the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday, saying that the goal of achieving a "more perfect union" includes marriage equality.
"Our nation's permanent mission is to form a 'more perfect union' -- deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community," said Clinton, a New York State resident. "That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York's welcome must include marriage equality."
The statement from Clinton arrives one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who enjoys high approval ratings, announced he would tour the state over the coming days to promote his agenda for the rest of the legislative session, which includes the three priorities of a property tax cap, ethics reform and marriage equality. A record 58% of New York voters support marriage equality, according to a recent poll. Labor unions, business leaders, and religious leaders also have expressed their support to state lawmakers in recent days.
In addition, New Yorkers United for Marriage, the coalition of five major LGBT advocacy organizations working with Cuomo to pass the bill, yesterday unveiled its first TV ad, which begins airing statewide today. The ad is part of a reported $1 million media campaign in the lead up to the anticipated marriage vote.
The coalition announced Thursday that Chelsea Clinton, who also supports marriage equality, would join the kickoff event this evening for its biweekly phone banking efforts to be held at the Manhattan headquarters of 1199 SEIU, one of the state's most powerful unions. Volunteers will call voters in swing districts across the state, urging them to ask their lawmakers to support the marriage equality bill.
The marriage equality bill failed in the New York State senate in 2009, but Cuomo has said he feels "optimistic" the legislation can pass this year. He plans a major fund-raiser for gay donors in New York City for June 14.