NEW YORK - New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced Monday that he will be proposing a bill for the legislature that would legalize same-sex "marriages."
Spitzer would submit it as a program bill – meaning it was proposed by the governor and not legislature – as part of the promise he made during his election run to legalize it.
The Democratic governor had expressed that the bill will unlikely reach the floor for a vote, however, but he is offering it still to show his support for the agenda.
"I do not think there is a realistic shot that it gets passed," said Spitzer, "but I will submit it because it is a statement of principle that I believe in and I want to begin that dynamic."
When he announced his legislative priorities last week, Spitzer did not include same-sex marriage among the topics. He only detailed those issues that he hoped that he could fulfill by the end of this legislative session, which ends on June 21.
"The bills that I talked of last week are the ones that I absolutely believe we can pass," he added.
Gay-rights groups have applauded the new efforts shown by the governor, who has been a strong supporter of homosexual rights. The action has strengthened the solid support that Spitzer has already seen from the gay community.
"The moment Eliot Spitzer introduces his marriage equality legislation, he will have secured his place in the American gay rights movement as the first governor in the country to do so," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, in Newsday.com.
As of now, Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriage. New York is also only one of the five remaining states that has not already defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The new bill will first be drafted and sent to the state Senate, which has a Republican majority, and Assembly, which is Democrat-controlled. The leader from each will then choose whether it will then go to the floor for a vote.
The bill has been lobbied for several times before by two Democratic Manhattan legislators, Sen. Thomas K. Duane and Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, but has never reached the floor.
Several Christian and non-Christian groups have strongly voiced their opposition to the legislation, favoring the traditional stance on marriage.
"For the past 5,000 years, marriage between man and woman has been the bedrock of any society," explained Roger Bogsted, chairman in the Nassau County Conservative Party, in a statement. "We have too many people trying to reinvent what the natural order of things is. What's the redeeming value in gay marriage? I see none."
Others have chosen not to take a side.
"It's irrelevant whether I personally support it or not," explained Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) in Newsday.com. "I try not to influence the conference on matters of conscience."
Gay-rights groups are planning to meet in Albany in early May for a day of lobbying. Many have expressed hope that Spitzer will have proposed the bill by then.
"He (Spitzer) is definitely pro-gay marriage," concluded Frank J. Russo, Jr., president of the American Family Association of New York, "and I think it's a disgrace."