Monday, June 18, 2007

Gay couples lobby NYS Legislators

NY Gay Couples Prod Legislature On Marriage
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: June 15, 2007 - 3:00 pm ET

(New York City) The plaintiffs in a failed lawsuit seeking marriage for same-sex couples in New York have begun an intensive lobbying effort to prod the legislature to pass a marriage equality bill.

Last July, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry. (story) It said that the issue, however, could be taken up by the Legislature.

In April, Gov. Eliot Spitzer became the first governor in the country to introduce same-sex marriage legislation. (story)

The bill is currently before the New York Assembly:

"Without the protections offered by this bill, gay and lesbian New Yorkers remain second-class citizens, unequal under the law," the couples - Mary Jo Kennedy and Jo-Ann Shain, Daniel Reyes and Curtis Woolbright, Lauren Abrams and Donna Freeman-Tweed, Michael Elsasser and Doug Robinson, Daniel Hernandez and Nevin Cohen - say in an open letter to lawmakers..

"New York State is home to tens of thousands of committed same-sex couples. Every day, we contribute to the economic health of the state by living, working and investing in our communities. Many of us are raising children, for whom we have high hopes and dreams. Our families strengthen the social fabric of our neighborhoods. And yet, New York's same-sex couples and their families are denied the vital legal protections and responsibilities, and societal recognition provided by legal marriage."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) has avoided taking a position on gay marriage - saying he will leave it up to the party caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R), the most powerful Republican in the state is vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage and has vowed not to let the bill come to a vote.

Earlier this month New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. issued a report saying that if the state legalized same-sex marriage it would boost the economy by $184 million statewide with $142 million going into the city. (story)

The report, Love Counts: The Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality for New York, looked specifically at the economic impact over the first three years if the legislature approved the marriage bill.

In 2005, there were 50,854 same-sex couples living together and residing in New York State who can be identified as partners - about half of them living in New York City - according to the Census Bureau.

© 2007

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