FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2009
STATEMENT BY MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY PROGRAM BILL
“I was pleased to join the Governor today in support of marriage equality. When it comes to recognizing civil rights, New York State has always been a leader. This is where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began the long struggle for women’s suffrage. This is where the NAACP was founded 100 years ago. And still today, New York is a major center for workers’ rights, for immigrant rights and for gay rights.
“Our State has always stood up for individual freedoms. In keeping with that proud tradition, I believe New York should become the next state to permit same-sex marriages. As I’ve said before, I do not think that government should be in the business of telling us who we can and cannot marry.
“Different religions have different ideas about what constitutes a marriage. And each of us may have our own personal beliefs on what marriage means. These can be strongly-held convictions – and we’re not asking anyone to change them or to behave in a way that’s inconsistent with them.
“I strongly believe that’s it’s not the State’s place to define marriage in a way that excludes a segment of the population from the legal benefits associated with marriage. But that’s exactly where we are today. I’m pleased to hear our Governor declare his support for marriage equality. As soon as a hearing is called on a bill, I will be there to testify in support of it.
“It’s clear that the tide is turning and support is mounting. Many New Yorkers have been waiting a long time for the State to take up the issue of marriage equality. While we’ve been waiting, New York City has taken a number of important steps to support same-sex married couples.
“In 2005, we adopted a new policy to recognize equally all marriages and civil unions lawfully entered into in other jurisdictions like Massachusetts, Canada and other foreign nations, and now, Vermont and Iowa. We did so to ensure the same rights and benefits are available to all married couples in New York. We also convinced our pension systems and the City University of New York to adopt similar policies. Just last month, the City’s Board of Health voted unanimously to allow married lesbian couples to list both of their names on a birth certificate as soon as their children are born in New York City.
“Despite the progress we’ve made, gay and lesbian couples are still denied many civil protections and benefits that married couples enjoy and that’s why marriage equality is so important.
“New Yorkers pride themselves on their ability to practice their individual freedoms. That includes the right to say what you believe, to practice your own faith and to love whomever you want. It’s time for us to take the next step and ensure the rights of same-sex couples to marry who they want.
“I share the Governor’s belief that marriage equality will happen – here in New York State, and throughout the nation. And I look forward to working with the Governor and the State Legislature in this legislative session.
“I’d also like to add that I have never believed that the State Legislature should only debate and vote on legislation they are 100 percent certain is going to pass – that’s not democracy. Let’s have a debate. Let’s have a vote. And let’s see where people stand and why. That is what democracy is all about – and that is the best way to move this issue forward.”
Stu Loeser/Jason Post 212) 788-2958