By Kevin Nix
May 6th, 2011
Last night Chelsea Clinton joined more than 50 New Yorkers United for Marriage volunteers at 1199 SEIU Headquarters to kick off the coalition’s first week of phone-banking for marriage equality. Campaign volunteers reached out to thousands of supporters across all districts, asking them to urge their legislators to support full marriage rights for all New Yorkers this year.
On the same day that former President Bill Clinton endorsed marriage equality legislation in the Empire State, Chelsea briefly addressed the group after making patch-through calls to supporters.
“I was very grateful that my father gave me yet another reason to be proud,” Chelsea told the group. “It was the happiest day of my life to marry my best friend, and I believe every New Yorker should have that right.”
“Thank you all for being here this evening to thank your representatives. I know that we’ll get there, and hopefully before the summer,” she continued. “I couldn’t think of a better first year anniversary present.” She went on to thank the Human Rights Campaign and 1199 SEIU for organizing the phone bank.
The event kicked off what will be twice-weekly phone banks in an effort to pass marriage legislation by the end of the 2011 legislative session.
Bill Clinton Urges Approval of NYS Marriage Equality
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
May 5, 2011
In a written statement released May 5, former President Bill Clinton joined nearly three-dozen other prominent voices in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign.
“Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ –– deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community,” the ex-Democratic chief executive, who now lives in Westchester County, said. “That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation.”
Turning his attention directly to the effort to move an equal marriage bill through the State Senate before it adjourns at the end of June, Clinton continued, “Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.”
Since last September, HRC has released brief video messages endorsing the pending equal marriage bill from a slew of celebrities, community leaders, and elected officials, including Mayors Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins, and Ed Koch, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Bush, one of the former president’s twin daughters, former police commissioner Bill Bratton, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of tennis great Arthur Ashe, and actors and singers Moby, Whoopi Goldberg, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lucy Liu, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Meloni, Sam Waterston, Ethan Hawke, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kevin Bacon.
Clinton first voiced his support for marriage equality in September 2009, when he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he had been “wrong” about same-sex marriage. In 1996, the president signed the US Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of valid same-sex marriages and purportedly gives the right to states to do the same.
Will the Conservative Party’s Long Arm Matter on Marriage Equality?
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
Friday, May 6, 2011
“All human beings ought to be protected equally,” Michael R. Long, the chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, said. “You don’t need special legislation to legitimize a lifestyle, and that’s what this is about… Once they kick the door open, they’re going to be back for gay marriages.”
Long –– for more than two decades the leader of the small, though at times influential, third party –– made those comments to the New York Sun in December 2002 after 12 State Senate Republicans joined 22 Democrats to pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), New York’s gay rights law.
Eleven of those 12 Republicans had also been endorsed by Long’s Conservative Party.
On that occasion and numerous others (including in October 2002 comments to the Sun and a May 2001 statement to the New York Times), Long threatened to deny his party’s ballot line from –– and mount Republican Party primary challenges against –– GOP senators who voted for SONDA.
”It wouldn’t be the first time we have challenged candidates,” Long told the Times, according to a May 20, 2001 article.
Yet, when state senators next faced the voters, in the fall of 2004, Long’s party challenged none of the eight Republican-Conservative SONDA supporters who sought reelection and gave its endorsement to seven of them.
As Opposition Organizes, Senators Say Gay Marriage Calls Not Yet Surging
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
Friday, May 6, 2011
With advocates expecting a vote on gay marriage in New York’s State Senate within the next few weeks, the opposition is emerging just as the pro side is beginning to more aggressively lobby.
“We haven’t had anything organized in our district,” said Rayan Aguam, spokesman for Senator Joseph Griffo, a Republican who represents Utica.
What the office has seen is a “definitely noticeable” uptick in phone calls opposing same-sex marriage coming from within Griffo’s Senate district, Aguam said.
He could not attribute the increase to any organization or group.
Griffo is one of six senators, two Democrats and four Republicans, who have signaled they are undecided on the legislation. The state budget was completed on April 1 and a vote on gay marriage is expected before the Legislature adjourns on June 20.
There are 26 known same-sex marriage votes in the 62-member Senate. Republicans hold a narrow 32 to 30 majority, and one Democrat, Senator Ruben Diaz from the Bronx, is an ardent gay marriage opponent. Under the most favorable circumstances, marriage advocates must get at least three Republican votes.