Volume 5, Number 40 | October 5 – 11 , 2006
Spitzer: Gay Marriage Bill Will Be Sent to Legislature
The frontrunner in the race for New York State governor drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation Thursday night as he declared same-sex marriage a civil right.
Elliot Spitzer has been a longtime supporter of equal marriage and has voiced that support throughout the campaign, but in his speech to about 1,000 people at the Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual dinner Thursday he went further suggesting he would author legislation and send it to the Legislature if he is elected in November.
"No New Yorker should be deprived of the right to marry the person of their choice, regardless of gender," the Democrat who is currently Attorney General said.
"This is not about forcing any religion to perform or recognize gay marriage. It’s simply about permitting gay and lesbian couples the right to live in stable, long-term married relationships."
It brought the crowd, that included a large number of state and local lawmakers, to their feet.
Spitzer also said that the rights of churches which do not support same-sex marriage must be protected.
"We must protect the rights of people of faith and their institutions," he said. "If I’m elected next month, I will make sure the government does not infringe on religious choice and practice. This, too, is a sacred civil right – part of the pantheon of values that define and protects all civil rights.
That he will be elected is virtually assured. Spitzer enjoys a 50-point lead over his Republican opponent, John Faso. Faso opposes same-sex marriage but has said he would support domestic partner law.
In July the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry. It said that the issue, however, could be taken up by the Legislature.
Bills coming before the Legislature are usually penned by members of the Assembly or the Senate, but in New York governor’s regularly write their own legislation, called Program Bills which are then filed by members.
Democrats control the Assembly in Albany but Republicans have a firm grip on the Senate, something that is unlikely to change next month.
Just prior to Thursday night’s speech by Spitzer, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) announced his support for equal marriage legislation.
US Senator Russ Feingold also addressed the Pride Agenda dinner, voicing his support for gay marriage. The Wisconsin Democrat is one of four US Senators who have come out for gay marriage. The others are Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island).