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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The New York State Assembly passed a marriage equality bill Tuesday night:



Wednesday, June 20, 2007 -- As reports intensify over employers in New Jersey failing to recognize civil unions at an alarming 13 percent rate, the New York State Assembly late Tuesday night -- pointing squarely to the New Jersey experience -- passed a marriage equality bill Tuesday night by 85 to 61.

New York State thus becomes the third state after California and Connecticut to see a legislative body pass a marriage equality bill. This past April, the Connecticut state legislative Judiciary Committee passed a marriage equality bill 27 to 15. In 2005, both houses of the California legislature passed a marriage equality bill, which Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed. The California legislature is expected to pass the bill again this year.

"That the Democrats who control the New York Assembly passed a marriage equality bill by such a significant margin, 85 to 61, should embolden Democrats who control both houses of the New Jersey legislature to take the same action," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.

"Our movement's victorious and significant legislative steps in New York, Connecticut and California mean it's no longer so unusual for state legislators to vote for a real marriage equality statute.

"In New Jersey, there's masive momentum toward a marriage equality statute, and Tuesday night's action in New York will accelerate our momentum further. On October 25, 2007, the day the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down its Lewis v. Harris decision, only six New Jersey legislators favored a marriage equality bill. Today the number of legislative supporters is 40, or fully one-third our legislature. We expect to have the support of at least half our legislature by the end of 2007."

As the Gay City News reported Tuesday night, during the New York State Assembly's debate over the marriage equality bill, Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, "talked about evidence emerging from New Jersey's four-month experience with civil unions, in which both gay advocates and state officials have received hundreds of complaints from gay and lesbian couples who say that employers and institutions such as hospitals have not treated them as spouses."

As of last Friday, 1092 couples have gotten civil-unioned in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Service. As of today, 151 civil-unioned couples have complained to Garden State Equality that employers refuse to provide civil-union benefits.

In fact, 13 percent is, if anything, way too low an estimate of the New Jersey civil union law's failure rate. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights reports that in the four months of the law, 90 couples a month have inquired about trouble with their civil unions working in the real world, for 360 such couples in all.

Garden State Equality congratulates the Empire State Pride Agenda, our sister organization in New York, for its heroic work in making history in New York State.

"Though the state Senate in New York is Republican-controlled and is not expected to pass marriage equality this session, with the Empire State Pride Agenda's leadership, New York will stand right beside New Jersey as the first states to enact marriage equality through legislation," said Goldstein.

"Someday soon, the PATH train that connects our states will be the PATH to marriage equality in either direction."

Contact: Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality

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