May 1, 2007 – O’Donnell Statement: It gives me great pleasure to be the sponsor of the Governor’s same-sex marriage bill in the Assembly. Not only is this a professional victory but also a personal one. As one of the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage case that was decided in the Court of Appeals last summer, I have been on the forefront of this issue for many years and I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues to pass this historic legislation.
Eliot Spitzer is the first Governor to introduce a same-sex marriage bill in a state legislature and I believe this speaks volumes about our state’s leadership in recognizing that same-sex marriage is an equal rights issue. This bill will provide the basic rights and protections same-sex couples and their children deserve, guaranteeing the respect and equality that should be afforded to all people under the law.
I applaud the Governor in taking this historic step and Speaker Sheldon Silver who has given me the opportunity to carry this bill that will improve the lives of thousands of same-sex couples. I would like to acknowledge Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, who continues to be a leader in advocating for the LGBT community, and my other colleagues who have made themselves vulnerable to attack by supporting previous legislation regarding LGBT rights.
There is no question that we have a lot of work to do, especially in the Senate, but I truly believe this is the right action for the State and we will be successful in the end. I would also like to acknowledge all of the advocates and regular citizens that made their voices heard in support of this issue. We must continue to put pressure on the Senate and its leadership to let them know this issue is not going away and every day it’s gaining more support throughout our state and across the country.
After this legislation passes, I will finally be able to marry my partner of 26 years, John Banta.