NY Governor Cuomo Sends ‘Marriage Equality Act’ to the Senate

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has submitted a marriage equality bill to the New York Senate.

Cuomo The bill contains a religious exemption clause, which could be very helpful in swaying the vote of GOP Senator Greg Ball, who has said his vote hinges on that language. The clause:

“The bill also guarantees that religious institutions and benevolent organizations such as the Knights of Columbus remain free to choose who may use their facilities for marriage ceremonies and celebrations or to whom they provide religious services, consistent with their religious principles.”

The bill also states that once passed, marriage equality would become valid in 30 days.

Cuomo has said in the past that he would not submit the marriage equality bill unless it had the votes to pass.

Said Cuomo in a statement today:

"From the fight for women's suffrage to the struggle for civil rights, New Yorkers have been on the right side of history. But on the issue of marriage equality, our state has fallen behind. For too long, same-sex couples have been denied the freedom to marry, as well as hundreds of rights that other New Yorkers take for granted. Marriage Equality is a matter of fairness and legal security for thousands of families in this state – not of religion or culture. When it comes to fighting for what's right, New Yorkers wrote the book, and Marriage Equality is the next chapter of our civil rights story."


Contact your NY Senator using my Friend-setter page at Friendfactor. Or use the contact information here. Your Senator needs to hear from you.

Here it is, via Capital Tonight:

Marriage Equality Bill


  1. Rick says

    I don’t see anything wrong with that language. The important thing is that the law be changed and that the churches that want to perform marriages be allowed to do so, not that those that don’t should be forced to do so (they shouldn’t).

  2. ichabod says

    Just got off the phone with my state senator’s office (Liz Krueger). Even though she’s a co-sponsor of the bill and I know she’ll vote “yes”, I feel it never hurts to call and show your support. (Thanks, Senator Krueger!)

  3. Jollysocks says

    This can only be a good sign, Cuomo obviously believes the votes are locked in. Parsing through the new language in this bill, so far looks like just more already existing “religious exceptions” which is fine by me as long they don’t extend this to individuals.

    If this is a go, this would be one of the BIGGEST victory we’ve ever had.

  4. Gregoire says

    That’s a rather loathesome exemption which is bound to be abused in some way, but a small concession to getting this through and getting this done!!

  5. Bruno says

    Seems along the lines of the New Hampshire bill and certainly doable from our side. But I’m sure Ball will just say “no good, we want laws that state that only non-Christians can perform gay marriages” or something ridiculous along those lines, take his ball, and go home.

  6. Zlick says

    I support almost anything that will get a few Republicans on board. But I admit there’s something in the religious exemption clause that bothers me, namely, that “benevolent organizations” can refuse to host marriage receptions – separate and apart from hosting marriage ceremonies. This would seem to go against public accommodation laws, and it’s a tiny bit of inequality that bugs me – but which I would stomach for the sake of marriage equality in a heartbeat (and later lawsuits would likely get reversed).

    Let’s not quibble. Let’s get it done. Go New York! I’m on pins and needles. (Ex-New Yorker with inbred anxiety issues, heheh.)

  7. Rick says

    @Zlick That they used the Knights of Columbus, a specifically Catholic “benevolent organization” as an example would suggest that only those organizations with a religious affiliation would be allowed the exemption, not an organization with a more generalized membership, such as a VFW branch…..

    If quasi-public organizations like the VFW adopt a “no gay marriages or receptions” policy, that can be dealt with separately…..and if a private club adopts that policy, it is their prerogative to do so, isnt it?

  8. Wavin' Dave says

    Er, isn’t this all a bit empty as long as DOMA is on the books? At tax time, inheritance time, adoption time, real estate time, hospital time, etc. it offers a meaningless citizenry – if I go to Jersey, Florida or most other states, I’d have better satisfaction holding a DRIVER’s license, or a DOG license or a GUN license, no?

  9. Bruno says

    @Wavin’ Dave: Inheritance, adoption, property, hospital visitation rights, even if limited to the jurisdiction of New York State, are not empty. What’s your point? That all that is meaningless unless all states recognize it? We all know these are baby steps and that DOMA needs to be overturned.

  10. TyN says

    Fine with me. Who the hell wants to have their wedding reception at a Knights of Columbus hall? It’s where your trashy aunt celebrates her 3rd marriage.

  11. daftpunkydavid says

    @ wyld_addict: if (and it’s still a big if at this point, i wouldn’t rush to modify my plans), if this gets done, it is supposed to start within 30 days, according to the bill.

  12. kjpnyc says

    Andrew Cuomo is the bomb. I thought David Patterson was a good friend to the GLBT community, but Cuomo has taken it to a different level. Maybe this will pass and maybe it won’t, but you can’t fault Cuomo for his leadership and support on this. Bloomberg has also been a strong supporter. Now the GLBT community needs to be there for Cuomo and that means people that have $$ need to host GLBT community fundraisers for Cuomo and write some big ass checks!

  13. dw says

    I was cynical about Cuomo, thinking he used the ‘only bringing it to the floor if I have the votes’ excuse that’s often used only as an excuse not to actually bring up a bill.
    But now he’s really done it. He MUST have the votes. He’s too smart to have made that first statement, and not actually have locked up the one vote that’ll take this to 32.
    I can’t wait to see Ruben Diaz’ sour puss when this law gets signed.

  14. MiloTock says

    Let’s not count our chickens quite yet. Remember what recently happened in R.I. and Maryland. Skelos still has not yet confirmed he is even going to let this make it to a vote. We can be optimistic, but still have to continue to exert pressure until there is a vote and this passes. If you are, or know anyone who is, a constituent of any of the Republican senators who have indicated that they are undecided, or might be willing to vote “yes”, now is the time to make that phone call or send an e-mail urging them to do the right thing.

  15. says

    “Er, isn’t this all a bit empty as long as DOMA is on the books?”

    Not at all, Wavin’ Dave. Marriage equality in NY would provide important protections to couples within the state. That matters for those gay families. But, even more importantly, if gay couples in a state with a large population like NY (or CA, if we win again there) begin marrying it helps tip the scales in our favor at the federal level, as challenges to DOMA proceed through the Courts or are, eventually, taken up legislatively.

    The more gay couples who are married in individual states the more mainstream marriage equality becomes to the powers that be, and to American culture as whole–that’s the opposite of empty. Marriage equality is the best advertisement for marriage equality!

  16. Bill S. says

    If we have 31 votes, we win!! A 31-31 tie would be broken by the Lt. Governor, who supports marriage equality. We don’t need 32, although it would certainly help!

  17. Bill S. says

    Apparently, I’m seeing other comments that indicate that the Lt. Gov. can only vote on ties relating to procedural motions, not legislation. Come on #32!!

  18. FunMe says

    Let’s not get too excited until we get the 33 vote.

    That is a magic number!

    For now caution. We’ve been down this road before. So until we get this victory, no victory dances yet.

  19. Vicki says

    Let’s keep in mind that the religious exemption just says what’s been true for … ever. Roman Catholic churches decline to marry divorced people who have not had an annulment, and I think the same is true of Jews who have not gotten gets. This bill is all about civil marriage; if we don’t want the fundamentalists to block marriage equality on the grounds that this is a civil right, then who cares if the religious organizations are on board? My daughter and her beloved partner can be a family under the law. That’s what matters.

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