June 15, 2011

Assembly Passes Historic Marriage Equality Act
Measure Would Allow Same-Sex Partners to Legally Marry in New York State

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell announced today the passage of the historic Marriage Equality Act, a measure that will allow same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples. Silver and O'Donnell commended Governor Cuomo on his extraordinary leadership and urged the State Senate to finally make marriage equality a law in New York.

The Assembly first passed marriage equality legislation in 2007, and twice again in 2009. On each occasion, as well as today, the bills received support from majority and minority members from throughout the state.

"This is a matter of equity and justice," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "New Yorkers should have the right to marry whom they choose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples."

"Today, the Assembly has yet again put itself solidly on the side of justice and equality for all in New York State," said O'Donnell (D-Manhattan). "This is the fourth time that we in the Assembly have passed Marriage Equality under Speaker Silver's unwavering support and leadership, and my courageous colleagues who have supported the bill since 2007 deserve immense praise and thanks. This action takes us one step closer to removing legalized discrimination from our law books and reclaiming New York's position as a leader in equality for our nation."

The bill (A.8354/O'Donnell), a governor's program bill, would amend the Domestic Relations Law to give same-sex couples the opportunity to legally wed in New York State and make all provisions of state law applicable to same-sex marriages. The legislation also reiterates that no member of the clergy may be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.

When the Assembly first passed marriage equality legislation in 2007, Massachusetts was the only state that allowed same-sex marriage. Today, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia also permit same-sex marriages. Currently New York, as well as Rhode Island and Maryland, recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.