NY Senate rejects gay marriage after passionate debate

Wed. December 2, 2009 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

New York - A long-anticipated gay marriage vote in the New York Senate has ended in disappointment for advocates of gay marriage. The debate, which came after months of inaction, was passionate, but senators voted down the bill 24 to 38. Few opponents of the bill approached the podium.

Openly gay Senator Tom Duane, the bill's sponsor, was the first to speak. He told senators that the measure would "make me equal in every way to everyone else in this chamber." Duane spoke up a second time, before voting began. In a rambling speech he said, "There is never a good time for civil rights, its never the right time for civil rights, I know. But the paradox is it's always a good time to be on the right side of history."

The Senate's most outspoken critic of gay marriage, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, called the debate "treason" and invited Republicans to vote with him against the measure.

Senator Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, urged for passage of the bill, saying, "You can't legislate morality, but you can legislate justice."

Senators Kevin S. Parker and Eric Adams, two African-American lawmakers, cast the debate in terms of civil rights. Parker said his support for gay couples stemmed from racial discrimination.

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson revealed publicly for the first time that her late brother was gay. A previously undecided senator, Hassell-Thompson announced for the first time she favored the bill, saying voters in her district did not elect her to legislate morality.

Despite the high emotions and passionate speeches, senators easily defeated the bill. The defeat will likely also affect nearby New Jersey, where senators considering a similar measure are certain to take notice.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine