Statement from Assembly Member Danny O'Donnell on President Biden Signing the Respect for Marriage Act

O'Donnell wrote and passed the New York Marriage Equality bill, a pivotal moment in the history of same-sex marriage

Washington DC – Today, Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell joins President Biden and LGBTQ leaders from across the country at the White House for the President's signature of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation codifying the recognition of same-sex marriage nationally. Assembly Member O'Donnell was the author and sponsor of the New York State Marriage Equality Act, which passed the New York State Assembly five times between 2007 and 2011, when it finally passed the legislature and was signed into law. In that moment, New York State became the first large state to pass marriage equality legislatively, changing the game and clearing the path for the issue nationally.

On the bill's signing, Assembly Member O'Donnell said, β€œ42 years ago, I fell in love with a man named John our freshman year of college. After decades together, we were told we needed to go to another state to get a marriage license. I told them I wanted to be married in the state where I was born, lived, and paid taxes.

17 years ago, I sued in a New York State court for the right to marry the man I loved. The court responded that we had to pass a law to earn that right. I told them I knew how to do that.

16 years ago, I introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly to give same sex couples the right to marry in New York State. I passed the bill in the Assembly in 2007, in 2009, and again in 2011.

11 years ago, my bill making same sex marriage legal passed the NYS Legislature, with John standing by my side. In doing so, New York State affirmed that LGBTQ deserve the same rights and respect under the law. The nation took notice, the political winds shifted, and in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land.

Today, I stand at the White House, a married gay man, as President Biden signs legislation ensuring my marriage will be recognized in US law. I am deeply grateful for our progress as a movement. The Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges was a meaningful step forward, but there is no substitute for the security of a legislative affirmation of our right to love, marry, and enjoy the many rights and privileges granted by the government to married couples.

10 years ago, I married the love of my life, John. We have been through hell and back together, and it’s all been better with him at my side.

We're told that progress takes time - that the world moves slowly on big issues. But those of us who have lived under threats of violence, discrimination, and hate know that there is no time to wait. Gay rights are human rights. Trans rights are human rights. And LGBTQ people deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, equality, and love. Today is a day to celebrate. Tomorrow, we keep fighting to ensure that progress marches on, and we will continue to prove again and again and again: love wins.”