While the Long Island delegation found itself on the wrong side of history tonight, history was indeed made in New York. Chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” rang out after the final tally just moments ago as the New York State Senate confirmed the legislation 33 to 29 that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of New York. It’s a historic moment for a state that boasts one of the largest gay populations in the nation though efforts to bring a bill to pass have been thwarted until now.
Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx gave a rambling, and at times incoherent, speech against the bill that was interrupted several times by Lt. Governor Duffy, who attempted to maintain time limits on those wishing to explain their votes. Diaz was the lone democrat to vote against it. Four Republicans crossed party lines to vote in the affirmative, including Buffalo Republican Mark Grisanti who apologized for his prior vote against gay marriage stating that he had heard both sides of the issue, taken the message of advocates for the bill to heart, and changed his stance.
In the end, the ugly procedural mess that is Albany politics came together at the 11th hour of this session to approve a bill gay and lesbian couples have only dreamed of in New York. The unlikely hero of the affair is Governor Andrew Cuomo who continues to wield his political capital effectively to marshal support for his initiatives despite vehement opposition at times from special interest and religious groups.
New York is officially the largest state in the union to pass same-sex marriage legislation, which will undoubtedly ignite a firestorm of public outrage in conservative parts of the country while at the same time providing incentive for other states to follow suit. And while the Long Island delegation voted against the measure, kudos must be given to presiding officer Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre for bringing the bill to the floor since he clearly knew the outcome prior to its passage.
On a personal note, congratulations to friends and advocates of this bill and to those who fought for the rights of couples to determine their own path in this world. Moreover, congratulations to those directly affected by this legislation. May you enjoy the same comfort and freedom to love your partner that I am allowed under the law to love mine. This was an extraordinarily human thing to do and I’m proud to be a New Yorker.