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Advocacy Groups Celebrate N.Y. Marriage Victory

Advocacy Groups Celebrate N.Y. Marriage Victory

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As New Yorkers celebrated last night's historic vote, LGBT and civil rights advocacy groups, which have long supported marriage equality and continue to fight for its nationwide passage, weighed in on the effects of the Empire State's victory and the long road still ahead.

"Winning the freedom to marry in New York truly is a transformative moment for committed couples and for our country, a triumph for love and equality under the law," said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. "Now that we've made it here, we'll make it everywhere -- and as Americans' hearts open and minds continue to change in favor of the freedom to marry, the momentum coming from New York's giant step forward brings a nationwide end to marriage discrimination closer than ever."

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, said, "New Yorkers should take pride in their legislature securing fairness and dignity for all families. Lesbian and gay couples throughout New York live in committed relationships, some lasting for decades. When they make the commitment at the heart of marriage, it's not fair to exclude them from the protections that only marriage can provide."

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's senior director of programs, Herndon Graddick, agreed that loving and committed New Yorkers are "at the heart of this vote," saying they "simply want the same thing all Americans want: the ability to take care of the people they love and to protect their families. Gay and lesbian New Yorkers are now one step closer to the vital legal protections that marriage affords and which all couples need."

Meanwhile, New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman applauded the state's Republican senators, some of whom "put politics aside, reached across the aisle and stood on the right side of history by supporting fairness and equality for all New Yorkers. This historic, bipartisan vote is a victory for families and a victory for human rights. Now, all loving couples in our state can enjoy the dignity, respect and legal rights that marriage provides."

Freedom to Marry's Wolfson concurred: "This unprecedented support from Republicans, corporations, and even pro athletes demonstrates how mainstream ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage has become," he said.

The next step, say advocacy groups, is urging President Obama to follow the Empire State's lead and declare his support for marriage equality.

Robin McGehee, director of GetEqual, issued a statement saying, "Today, New York has agreed with the majority of this country's population that supports equal marriage rights for all. Though we were disappointed by the President's lip service to our community yesterday, we're thrilled that New York legislators understand the vital importance of recognizing the fundamental humanity of LGBT Americans."

Said Melissa Goodman, NYCLU senior litigation and policy counsel for LGBT rights: "Our work will not be complete until the federal government recognizes the relationships of every lesbian and gay couple who choose to marry in New York."

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