Gay Rights Activists to Emulate NY Win in Other States

The New York gay marriage law, passed for the first time by a Republican-controlled senate late Friday, is being seen as gay activists’ biggest-ever victory which may lead to a greater push for similar laws in other states. But Christian groups say they will continue to fight.

“Keep up the momentum. With your victory in New York, the momentum for marriage is growing. Help us win more states,” says a bold red-colored message appearing on the website of gay rights group Freedom to Marry, urging supporters to “Donate Now.”

“This unprecedented support from Republicans, corporations, and even pro athletes demonstrates how mainstream ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage has become,” the group’s founder and president, Evan Wolfson, said in a statement early Saturday, providing the list of donors and supporters.

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“This win in New York adds to the momentum for the work ahead: ending the cruel exclusion from marriage in so many other states, and tackling and ending federal marriage discrimination under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, under which so much of the crucial safety-net that marriage is intended to provide continue to be denied to married gay and lesbian couples,” Wolfson added.

Gay activists now need to help frame the “national narrative” around marriage, transgender civil rights and other LGBT issues “so equality and justice do not end at our borders,” Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said in a statement.

“When this is signed into law, the population of the United States with marriage equality doubles,” Gannett Albany Bureau quoted Levi as saying. “That’s certain to have ripple effects across the country.”

Having same-sex marriage in New York will have “tremendous moral and political force” for the rest of the country, “in part because New York is a large state, and in part because it hasn’t come easily,” Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

With Republican senators James Alesi, Roy MacDonald, Stephen Saland and Mark Grisanti voting in favor of the gay marriage bill, the move initiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo was passed and signed into law late Friday. Earlier, in 2007 and 2009, Republican lawmakers at the senate had defeated similar bills.

The ripple effect of the new law is likely to provide more than just information, added Prof. Goldberg. “New Yorkers tend to move about the country quite a lot … High numbers of same-sex couples likely to marry here will increase pressure on other states to treat those couples fairly.”

Particularly the states where gay activists have made unsuccessful attempts at legalizing same-sex marriage, including Maryland, Oregon, Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island, could be the next target.

“It seems inevitable that we’ll have same-sex marriage in most of the states within a decade,” predicts Michael Dorf, a Cornell Law School professor, according to Reuters.

But Christian groups opposed to gay marriage rights remain determined to fight the likely expansion of the gay movement. “We may have lost the battle, but not the war. We will continue to preach and teach against homosexuality, for God made marriage as a holy covenant strictly between man and woman,” Bishop Satin Greene, U.S. Metropolitan for the Church of Twelve Tribes Apostolic Kingdom, said in a statement.

“Despite today’s vote, the people of New York recognize that marriage provides a strong foundation for a thriving society,” the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of evangelical Christian group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said in a statement Friday.

State senators who had chosen to “pursue their own agenda or the agenda of liberal activist groups” are overlooking the fact that 62 percent of Americans still believe that marriage is “one man, one woman, nothing else,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that the vast majority of Democratic legislators and a handful of liberal-leaning Republicans have put personal agendas, ahead of principled positions. We had hoped for better, but now we look to next year’s November,” he added.

The New York gay marriage law will come into force within 30 days.

Of the five other states with same-sex marriage provisions, New Hampshire and Vermont legalized same gay wedding by legislative action while Iowa, Massachusetts and Connecticut were directed to do so by court orders.

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