New York State Assembly Approves Gay Marriage Bill 85-61

After debating for three hours yesterday, the New York State Assembly approved the gay marriage bill introduced by Eliot Spitzer and Rosie O’Donnell’s gay brother, Democrat Daniel O’Donnell by a vote of 85-61.

NyspitzerDemocratic Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari told the Albany Times-Union that the impassioned debate changed minds: "This was one of those nights where the debate changed votes. It doesn’t happen that often."

O’Donnell made a humorous plea to lawmakers near the end of the debate, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: "I do not want a seat in your synagogue, I do not want a pew in your church. I seek a license that many of you have had, some of you have had two or three times."

The debate was not without its offensive offended objectors, the AP reports.

Said Democrat Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn: "Maybe we should include incest in the bill and sort of deal with the whole package at one time."

Odonnell_2Republican Assemblyman Brian Kolb said "the nuns who taught me in grammar school" still had influence in his decision and added, "I do feel threatened. I do feel harmed. It’s a direct challenge to me and how I was brought up."

Still, there were high notes. Recently-elected gay Staten Island Democrat Matthew Titone reportedly stood up with his cell phone following the vote and announced, to applause, "I have my partner here on the phone and he just asked me to marry him. My answer, Madam Speaker, is yes."

Meanwhile, the NYT City Room blog reports that Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno had a news conference this morning telling everyone to just simmer down, because it ain’t going to happen in his chamber:

"We’re not doing gay marriage by Thursday; that’s for sure, or this year. We’re not going to take a vote; we have too many other issues. We’re not going to spend hours debating an issue that, you know, is not going to be of consequence."

The Empire State Pride Agenda’s director Alan van Capelle released a statement following the vote: "Our community and our allies made it very clear to their state legislators that access to marriage—and the over one thousand state protections and responsibilities that come with it—needs to be provided to same-sex couples and our families.  Lawmakers heard from labor unions representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and religious leaders from hundreds of congregations all across the state. They heard from our families and friends, our co-workers and neighbors who told them that New York needs to treat all families equally. The message clearly had an impact and today the Assembly did the right thing. Now it’s time for the Senate to do the right thing."


  1. Matt says

    I am happy to see this. It will unfortunately never happen in Georgia where I’m from. I’m becoming very tired of being hated. Sometimes I think being in the closet is where I should have stayed. It’s gay pride week here in Atlanta and I really don’t feel I have anything to be proud of.

    Sorry guys didn’t mean to vent but I’m almost tired of caring.

  2. Sean R says

    Such good news and the quip from NY’s Daniel O’Donnell is brilliant!

    BTW… Ireland has a Daniel O’Donnell, a syrupy singer of the Andy Williams/Pat Boone mode but attracts a whole “mammie” brigade. Just for giggles, here’s a link to an item on his tea party… only in Ireland, huh?

  3. Sean R says

    Hey Matt in Georgia,

    Living in a Catholic and increasingly conservative State like the Irish Republic, I can empathise. It’s not always easy being gay, and can be tiring to live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value you, but it is better to be honest about yourself. Don’t let the bastards get you down, and I’m sure nobody minds you venting! Hope my link will make you smile/cringe [and see there are similarities].

  4. Zeke says

    Matt, I certainly understand your frustration and your anger; I share it, but I hope you don’t think that being in the closet makes things better or easier. The closet makes things exponentially worse. You still have the same hate in society and the same frustration with it except, when you’re in the closet you have the added SELF hate and the additional frustration that the closet ALWAYS brings. If the closet brought peace and happiness then everyone would stay there. I don’t think I’ve EVER met a person that said he had more peace and happiness in the closet than out.

    Fight on brother. Stay strong. NEVER give up. We WILL prevail. The assholes on the other side are only fighting harder and nastier because THEY know that they are losing the “culture war” that THEY have waged. Just like the segregationist and racist of the 60’s, the closer justice and legal equality comes, the nastier, more violent and more desperate they become. Segregationist and racist LOST their culture war and so will the homophobes.

    Just know that I’ve always got your back bubba!

  5. John says

    Zeke, racists lost the legal war. As for the culture war, I would submit that there is still far more racism in America than many people would care to deal with.

    Certainly, the most violent and destructive elements of it have gone underground. And it is no longer acceptable to utter racial slurs when other races are ‘around.’ But that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist in the hearts and minds of a significant section of the population.

    This whole bruhaha over immigration is the perfect example of America’s new passive-aggressive racism. That is, opponents of illegal immigration claim they just want to uphold the rule of law. At the same time, however, ever other word that comes out of their mouths is “the Mexicans” want to A- take all our jobs, B- make too many babies, and C- subvert the English language.

    Unfortunately, I think homophobia is heading down the same road. As anti-discrimination laws firmly take hold over the next few decades, public attacks against gays will probably decrease. However, that doesn’t mean people won’t hate gays. It just means they’ll be sufficiently fearful of legal reprisals to tone it down a notch.

    We can (and should) question whether such a change constitutes real progress… or merely better social control.

  6. Zeke says

    John, I agree most of what you say.

    Yes racism still exists and yes it exists at a greater level than we would like to admit. However, it absolutely does not exist at nearly the level that it did 30+ years ago. To claim that it does, only now it’s hidden below the surface, is sensationalistic and misleading.

    I am forty years old and grew up in Mississippi. I’ve seen racism from the inner sanctums of the war rooms. My family was EXTREMELY racist and quite active in promoting racist policies like segregation. They are still a few years behind the curve on issues of race but they have come a VERY, VERY long way, theologically, morally, culturally and socially in no small part because of the fact that civil rights laws and forced integration pushed them to deal with realities and allowed successive generations to interact with African-Americans throughout their school years, only to discover that they had more in common with their black classmates than they had differences. The greatest enemy of ignorance based hate is familiarity.

    As for questioning whether these legal advancements constitute REAL progress, I have NO doubt that the answer is a resounding YES. More importantly it plants the seeds for further progress in the social and cultural realms just as legal advancements in race issues promoted social and cultural evolution. In my family, from my parents’ generation up, all of my relatives were rabid racists and proud segregationists. I know for a fact that only one of my 15 paternal cousins is a racist, and none of my cousins’ children are racist. THAT is REAL progress.

    We still have A VERY LONG way to go in eradicating racism but it is counterproductive to insinuate that there has been no progress.

    The bottom line with me is, I may hate that people hate and fear me but I can abide their ignorance as long as their hate and fear isn’t turned into legislation or legal discrimination against me. Eventually these people and their bigotry will die off and each successive generation will become more enlightened and more accepting.

  7. joeb says

    Greetings from the great commonwealth of MA. The only state in the union where gay marriage is legal! Bravo for our brave representatives who stopped the civil rights of our gay citizens from being subject to a popular vote. I am proud to hail from here. love — a straight man from MA

  8. John says


    I’m not saying that no substantive progress has been made. I’m merely cautious as to the extent we can credit legislation with bringing about that progress. Nor am I totally confident that we can simply quantify success as “minorities are now more college educated” or “the Census Bureau reports diversity is growing.” I think lived experiences are far more muddy than the statistics suggest.

    Clearly, the abolishment of legal segregation is a positive event. And it allowed for movement on other measurable fronts. But, at the same time, I don’t think the law is the final word on racism. Nor do I think it will be the final word on homophobia.

    We can legislate against such evils, but they always seem to rear their ugly heads when you least expect them. I don’t think we should underestimate the staying power of bigotry. And it’s also quite multi-faceted and complex, as unfortunately, the IW mess has revealed. There are folks who benefit from these attitudes, and they are not necessarily on the ‘same side.’

    Yes, lets rejoice and celebrate progress. But lets also remember that progress is not an end… it’s a process.

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