Friday, June 24, 2011

Marriage Equality: Victory in New York

New York State is now the 6th State to allow same-sex couples the right to legally marry. The State Assembly passed the legislation by a vote of 82-47, then passed the bill on to the New York State Senate. By a vote of 33-29 the Republican controlled Senate passed the final bill, erupting the chamber in applause and cheers. New York is the largest state to date, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In December 2009 the New York State Senate rejected a "Marriage Equality" bill by a vote of 38-24. Then controlled by Democrats, the legislative body cited a lack of religious protections and anxiety about changing the definition of marriage, as reasons the bill failed to pass. Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigned in 2010 on the issue and made "Marriage Equality" his top priority. Cuomo vowed to New Yorker's he would get the bill passed within his first year in office.

Legislators who voted nay in 2009 cite a religious exemptions amendment as the reason for their changed vote. Prior to the final vote, a "Religious Exemptions" amendment was passed by a vote of 36-26 in the State Senate. The amendment will exempt religious organizations from being sued by same-sex couples, should they choose not to solemnize the same-sex marriages or provide their private facilities for the events. Proponents of the bill were comfortable with the amendment, which helped move the bill forward to a final vote.

According the New York State Comptroller, the passing of this bill will have significant economic benefit. It's expected that $142M in spending would be added to New York City's economy and $184M in new net spending to the state's economy.

Will New York State's legalizing of same-sex marriage energize a movement in other states?

Is this a sign that the nation's attitude is changing toward "Marriage Equality?"

Should the legalizing of same-sex marriage be handled at the state-level or the federal-level?
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