New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed a marriage equality act in New York state earlier this year, has called on every state to legalize same-sex marriage, promising to "not rest" until a national marriage equality act is passed for all of America.
Speaking at a gala hosted by the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights group based in New York, Cuomo said, "We need marriage equality in every state in this nation. Otherwise, no state really has marriage equality, and we will not rest until it is a reality," NY1 reported.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo was putting himself in the national debate for the first time since taking the reigns of New York state last year, which suggests the democrat governor could be mulling a run for president in 2016.
Cuomo spoke more about his support for gay rights, demanding that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) be repealed and that federal legislation be enacted that would protect gay men and women from employment and housing discrimination.
Whether or not taking the national stage is in the New York governor's plans, being on the side of gay rights is politically integral to being the leader of the state of New York, according to Daniel O' Donnell, an openly gay Democrat assemblyman from Manhattan, and sibling of comedian Rosie O'Donnell.
"When our community works together, we can have a lot of political clout, a lot of political power, and that we will not be treated like second-class citizens," O'Donnell said. "So, if you want to be part of political power in New York, you have to make sure that you're okay with the gays."
Despite the political strength of New York's gay community, some are resisting its influence by defying New York's marriage equality act that gave gays the legal right to marry in the state.
Rose Marie Belforti, a town clerk from upstate New York, refused to grant a lesbian couple a marriage license because she believes homosexuality is a sin, as reported by The Christian Post in September.
After the couple claimed Belforti's reaction was discrimination, they went to the media, igniting a debate about whether or not public officials can discriminate against people whose lifestyles do not comply with their religious beliefs.
Holly Carmichael, however, told CP that the question is the wrong one to be asking. Carmichael is an lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative Christian advocacy group, who was working with Belforti.
"I'm tired of this being labeled as 'discrimination,'" she said. "The irony here is that the same groups that argue for tolerance are some of the most intolerant when it comes to matters of one's beliefs."
Katie Carmichael, one of the women to who Belforti refused to grant a marriage license to, also believed there is a bigger picture, but from a different perspective.
"Gay people have fought so long and hard to get these civil rights," she told the NY Times. "To have [Belforti] basically telling us to get in the back of the line is just not acceptable."
Belforti, who is up for re-election, said she had no regrets and plans to keep her job, despite the controversy.
"I'm totally at peace, because God comes first for me," she told the NY Times.
According to CBN.com, two clerks from upstate New York have resigned from their positions because they did not want to sign marriage licenses for gay couples.