Governor proposes bill to legalize same-sex marriage

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, an openly gay legislator, speaks in support of marriage equality. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a bill Tuesday and said he expects it to pass this week. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely and Joe anuta

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a bill to grant marriage equality for same-sex couples in New York State Tuesday.

The move followed a Monday press conference where three state Senate Democrats flipped their position on gay marriage, throwing even more weight behind the growing call in Albany for same-sex marriage equality.

State senators Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) and Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) stood at a press conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce their support.

“I will vote yes, the voice of my people,” Addabbo said, citing a survey conducted by his office saying nearly 80 percent of his constituents support the act.

The senator had previously voted against the measure in 2009, along with Huntley and Kruger.

And according to another informal conducted by Huntley’s office, her constituents had changed their minds as well.

“That is the reason I decided to vote for it,” she said.

In fact, the tide has changed throughout the entire state, according to Cuomo, which is why he was glad to see the senators throw their weight behind the proposal during the final week of the legislative session.

“This is a big change, and this is going to generate a lot of momentum,” he said, adding that it is up to senate Republicans to contribute a mere four votes to make the measure happen.

“I believe the votes are there,” he said.

As of Tuesday evening, two Senate Republicans announced their support for the bill.

State senators Roy McDonald (R-Troy) and James Alesi (R-Fairport) brought the number of senators in support of the bill to 31. One addition vote is all that is needed for the measure to pass.

The legislative session is set to end on Friday, when many senators expect the vote to take place.

A large swath of the Queens delegation also threw their support behind marriage equality last week at a news conference at Queens Borough Hall.

Headed by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), electeds at the federal, state and city levels said the time was now for the state Legislature to allow members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to marry whomever they wished.

“Everyone deserves the right and the freedom to marry,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).

Openly-gay Council members Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) were present at the conference, but had legislative allies at all levels of government from Bayside and Flushing to Astoria and Middle Village. Borough President Helen Marshall, city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and civic activists were also on hand to support marriage equality.

The Assembly has passed multiple gay marriage bills since 2007, and openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) introduced the newest bill for it in the Assembly in May, but the measure has always died in the state Senate.

In the past, most of Queens’ senators have voted against the bill, but with the retirement of Astoria Sen. George Onorato, the ousting of East Elmhurst’s Sen. Hiram Monserrate and the defeat of Queens’ lone Republican Sen. Frank Padavan to pro-marriage equality Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), the tide has turned.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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