New York marriage equality advocates are preparing for a Monday full-court press in Albany with a lobbying day that is expected to draw more than 1,200 participants.
Equality and Justice Day begins at 10 a.m. eastern time with remarks by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy — as well as two openly gay state lawmakers, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell and Sen. Thomas Duane — at the Empire State Plaza Convention in Albany. A Capitol rally is scheduled for 1 p.m., followed by visits from attendees to their legislators.
"With the leadership of a historically popular governor, an Assembly that has repeatedly voted in support of this agenda and rapidly increasing statewide momentum, this year marks the most dynamic opportunity yet for LGBT New Yorkers and their allies to tell their stories directly to legislators," Empire State Pride Agenda said in a press release.
However, as of Monday at 9 a.m., Governor Cuomo was not scheduled to address the lobby day, according to his Albany office. The governor has said that passing the marriage equality bill is one of his priorities before the legislative session ends in June.
During the morning welcome in Albany, lieutenant governor Duffy, a former police chief from Rochester, assured the audience of Cuomo's commitment, and said that marriage equality was not an issue for Democrats or Republicans, but a matter of civil rights. Duffy said that the denial of marriage equality was "un-American."
On Monday afternoon, the New York State Democratic Committee released the script of a robo-call from Cuomo being released to voters across the state this week. In the call, the governor says, "It’s hard to imagine today, but at one time in this country it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry each other. We have come a long way and now it is time to go further — to achieve marriage equality for all New Yorkers."
According to tweets from the morning in Albany, Sen. Duane, his chamber's only openly gay member, received a standing ovation from the crowd, and said that it was "un-American" that not one Republican senator voted for the marriage equality bill, which failed the state senate by a 38 to 24 vote in 2009. Advocates need to secure support from at least three, and possibly more, Republican senators, depending on how many of the three undecided Democrats can be persuaded to support the bill.
Momentum in the state’s marriage equality push received a boost last week when Chelsea Clinton helped kick off statewide phone banking efforts in Manhattan, just hours after former president Bill Clinton announced his support for the campaign to win marriage by June.
Check Advocate.com for updates on the lobbying throughout the day.