A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York failed by a surprisingly wide margin Wednesday, chalking up another big win for traditional marriage advocates.
Though gay marriage supporters had hoped for the legislation to pass by a narrow margin, the State Senate voted 38-24 against the bill, sponsored by Thomas Duane, the state Legislature's first openly gay member. To pass, the New York measure needed 32 votes.
"This is a huge win," commented Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). "It puts the nail in the coffin on the idea that gay marriage advocates can persuade a majority of Americans their cause is just."
The latest victory follows another big one last month in Maine, where voters rejected a state law that would have recognized the union of gay couples as marriages. It also comes just days after gay marriage advocates in California decided not to try in the next elections to reverse the ban on gay marriage that voters approved in 2008, believing that the attempt would not succeed.
Though there have been smaller victories for gay marriage advocates over the past year, such as the recent decision by the District of Columbia to recognize gay marriages, big losses such as Wednesday's have overshadowed them and suggested a turning of tide.
"New York makes it crystal clear: the American people do not support gay marriage and they do not want their politicians messing with this issue," stated Brown.
According to NOM's president, Maggie Gallagher, supporters of the New York bill hurt their cause by equating opponents of gay marriage to slave owners and Nazis.
"Americans respectfully disagree with the politicians in New York, such as Sen. Oppenheimer and Sen. Pres. Malcom Smith, who described our views on marriage as somehow akin to Nazism, slavery or segregation," she stated. "At a minimum, that kind of hateful treatment of diverse views on gay marriage needs to stop today."
At one point in the Senate debate, Sen. Eric Adams asked lawmakers to remember that even slavery was once legal. The Democrat from Brooklyn also challenged them to set aside their religious beliefs and vote for the bill.
"When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out," Adams said.
Sen. Ruben Diaz, in his response, later said, "That's the wrong statement."
"You should carry your Bible all the time," countered the conservative minister from the Bronx.
While neither gay marriage nor civil unions are recognized in New York, the state has several laws, executive orders and court decisions that grant many of the rights to gays long guaranteed to married couples.
Presently, gay marriage is legal only in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. A New Hampshire law takes effect Jan. 1, 2010.