In February 2004, the young Green Party Mayor of New Paltz, NY Jason West officiated over 25 same-sex weddings, a violation of the law in the State in New York. He was arrested and eventually the charges were dismissed and in 2007 he was voted out of office, but Mayor West started the ball rolling. People in New York wanted to make things equal for everyone. Well last night, on the eve of the Gay Pride Parade in New York City, the legislature in Albany passed the bill to do so and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law. Same sex marriage is now legal in New York, AND there is no residency requirement which means couples can come from all over to be married. It was a narrow vote with four Republicans deciding to vote yes making the difference and the leading opponent being a Democrat, but in the end concerns that God will be cheapened by this action, were struck down much like a God that weak should be. The law goes into effect in 30 days, and frankly we want to be in New Paltz to see some of the first, because Jason West is Mayor again, sent back May of this year. We want to send mad props to all those that fought this battle in New York and encourage others to push for this to become the law of the land. And President Obama? As you struggle with your own beliefs remember that you also did not believe in fighting unnecessary wars, but you did what you felt you must. If religion is the main source opposition, read the First Amenendment and what it says about religion and do the right thing. And to paraphrase the late Peter Falk (RIP), just one more thing: The main opponents seen among the activists and legislators were people of color. We cannot reinforce enough how sad that is, especially now we have white supremacists praising some of us for doing so. That is going to stop.
ALBANY, N.Y. – At New York City's Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village pub that spawned the gay rights movement on a June night in 1969, Scott Redstone watched New York pass a historic same-sex marriage law with his partner of 29 years, and popped the question.
"I said, `Will you marry me?' And he said, `Of course!'" Redstone said he and Steven Knittweis walked home to pop open a bottle of champagne.
They and other gay couples from around the world can start planning to wed as early as late July in New York, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed his bill into law just before midnight Friday night. The stroke of Cuomo's pen fulfilled a campaign promise he made last year and injected fresh momentum into the national gay rights movement that largely stalled two years ago in the same state.
Quote of the week
"This is driven by compassion. I'm tired of Republican, Democrat politics; I'm tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers...They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background, I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this."
--New York State Senator Roy McDonald, a Saratoga banker, a Republican and a Vietnam War combat veteran, as he announced he'd switch his vote despite heavy pressure from party bosses and conservative activists to not do so.
New York becomes the sixth state where gay couples can wed, doubling the number of Americans living in a state with legal gay marriage. Pending any court challenges, legal gay marriages can begin in New York within 30 days.
"That's certainly going to have a ripple effect across the nation," said Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. "It's truly a historic night for love, our families, and democracy won."
"We made a powerful statement," Cuomo said. "This state is at its finest when it is a beacon of social justice."
The leading opponent, Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, was given only a few minutes to state his case during the Senate debate.
"God, not Albany settled the issue of marriage a long time ago," said Diaz, a Bronx minister. "I'm sorry you are trying to take away my right to speak," he said. "Why are you ashamed of what I have to say?"
The Catholic Bishops of New York said the law alters "radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage."
"We always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love," the bishops stated Friday, "We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization."
Legal challenges of the law and political challenges aimed at the four Republicans who supported gay marriage in the 33-29 vote are expected.
"State legislators should not decide society-shaping issues," said the Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. He said his organization would work in next year's elections to defeat lawmakers who voted for the measure.
The big win for gay rights advocates is expected to galvanize the movement around the country and help it regain momentum after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009 and similar measures failed in 2010 in New Jersey and this year in Maryland and Rhode Island.
Jerry Nathan of Albany, who married his partner in Massachusetts, called the vote "an incredible culmination of so much that's been going on for so many years it doesn't seem real yet."
Ultimately, gay couples will be able to marry because of two previously undecided Republicans from upstate regions far more conservative than the New York City base of the gay rights movement.
Sen. Stephen Saland, 67, voted against a similar bill in 2009, helping kill the measure and dealing a blow to the national gay rights movement. On Friday night, gay marriage supporters wept in the Senate gallery as Saland explained how his strong, traditionally family upbringing led him to embrace legalizing gay marriage.
"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," Saland, of Poughkeepsie, said in a statement to The Associated Press before the vote. "I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality."
Also voting for the bill was freshman Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who also had been undecided. Grisanti said he could not deny anyone what he called basic rights.
"I apologize to those I offend," said Grisanti, a Roman Catholic. "But I believe you can be wiser today than yesterday. I believe this state needs to provide equal rights and protections for all its residents," he said.
A huge street party erupted outside the Stonewall Inn Friday night, with celebrants waving rainbow flags and dancing after the historic vote.
Watching the festivities from across the street was Sarah Ellis, who has been in a six-year relationship with her partner, Kristen Henderson. Ellis said the measure would enable them to get married in the fall. They have twin toddlers and live in Sea Cliff on Long Island.
"We've been waiting. We considered it for a long time, crossing the borders and going to other states," said Ellis, 39. "But until the state that we live in, that we pay taxes in, and we're part of that community, has equal rights and marriage equality, we were not going to do it."
The bill makes New York only the third state, after Vermont and New Hampshire, to legalize marriage through a legislative act and without being forced to do so by a court.