Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Despite defeat, same-sex marriage advocates rally in Albany | | The Ithaca Journal

report on Marriage Equality Rally in Albany that Robert and I attended yesterday

Despite defeat, same-sex marriage advocates rally in Albany | | The Ithaca Journal

ALBANY -- Some might think that two months after the Senate nixed a same-sex marriage bill and eight months before an election that could shift New York's balance of power isn't the best time to lobby on the issue, but gay-rights advocates disagreed Tuesday.

"Some organizations in this movement feel that being in Albany, even here today, may not have been the best idea. But, you know what, just because a vote can't happen this year doesn't mean we can rest," Ron Zacchi, executive director of Marriage Equality New York told about 100 members from Buffalo, Rochester, Westchester County, New York City and elsewhere in the state.

The Senate voted 24-38 in December to reject same-sex marriage legislation. No Republicans voted for it and eight Democrats, one of whom is no longer serving in the Senate, voted against it.

The Assembly, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, has twice passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, but the Senate has taken up the matter only once.

In November, voters will select representatives for all 212 seats in the Legislature. Gay-rights advocates have pledged to work against lawmakers who didn't support the same-sex marriage bill.

Michael Sabatino of Yonkers, and his partner of more than 30 years, Robert Voorheis, said they and other advocates are determined to keep the issue alive. The two were married in Canada several years ago.

"I think we have to stay in front of our elected officials, let them know that this is a very important issue, that we are expecting them to vote again on it in the future and that we are serious about getting this legislated here in New York state," he said.

Senate Democratic leaders continue to work on building bipartisan support for marriage equality bill, "which guarantees dignity, equality and privacy under the law for all committed couples," said Travis Proulx, a spokesman for the Senate Majority Conference.

The Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, which opposes same-sex marriage, said the legislation is a non-issue in 2010.

"There's zero chance that it's going to come up for a vote this year," he said. "It's just not an issue that people are going to want to touch again."

Anne Tischer, 58, of Gates, Monroe County, traveled to Albany Tuesday because "without (same-sex) marriage, there really is no progress," she said. "Marriage is the brass ring and it will impact rights for all other LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) groups."

There are many rights that come with marriage, said Tischer, who married her partner of 16 years, Bess Watts, five years ago in Canada. For example, the couple have to pay extra taxes on health-care benefits that Tischer receives through Watts' job, taxes that aren't levied on heterosexual married couples.

Kitty Moran, 55, said she would be lobbying her own senator, James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, who was thought to be a supporter of the legislation but who voted no.

"I'm not asking for the moon here. I'm just asking for basically the same rights that heterosexual couples have," said Moran, whose partner is Debbie Heintz.

Kitty Lambert, 53, said she and her partner, Cheryle Rudd, 52, asked for a marriage license at Buffalo City Hall earlier this month and were denied. They have been together for more than 10 years. A young man whom she had never met before volunteered to acquire a marriage license with Lambert, and they received one.

Lambert, whose actions are documented in a video on You Tube, said activists were making a point.

"There are groups out there that talk about the sacredness of marriage and the sanctity of marriage and have absolutely no idea how much comprehension we have of how sacred that piece of paper is, because our relationships are without it. They're unprotected," said Lambert, president of Outspoken For Equality, a western New York gay-rights group.

Joe Tarver, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, which wasn't a part of Tuesday's lobbying event, said if there's an avenue to get the same-sex marriage bill passed this year, the group will work on it. The organization has an eye toward November, he said.

"I know that one of the things that we're working on is getting more pro-(gay) marriage senators in that chamber," he said.

No comments: