Yesterday, by a vote of 80-63, the New York's State Assembly approved a same-sex marriage bill, known as The Marriage Equality Act. The Act will be sent directly to the State Senate, where it will most likely face a much closer vote.
More specifically, the Marriage Equality Act if passed, would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry "as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex," according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
Currently, New York State does not grant same-sex marriages. In 2008 however, in an appellate court ruling, it was ruled that same-sex couples do have the rights to have their same-sex marriages recognized if they are performed elsewhere in another state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized. There are five states -Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire – as well as the District of Columbia that currently grant same-sex marriage licenses.
Here at The Overbrook Foundation we believe that same-sex marriage is a fundamental human right. We see this work as integral to our larger domestic human rights portfolio which focuses broadly on gender, LGBT rights and reproductive rights. Over the past decade, the Foundation has supported a variety of organizations pushing for the rights of same-sex couples, as well as working to ensure basic rights for LGBT individuals. To say that it would please us to see same-sex marriage pass here in our home state of New York is an understatement. We think it is great that Mayor Bloomberg will travel to Albany this morning to try to persuade Republican state senators to legalize same-sex marriage. But we are also realistic, recognizing that because the state legislature is scheduled to adjourn this Monday this gives the Senate only three days to take up the marriage bill.
If you are interested in learning more about the rights of same-sex couples, please check out the work of some of the Foundation’s current grantees in this area: Civil Marriage Collaborative, Freedom To Marry, and the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund. These organizations pursue a variety of strategies, including advocacy work, policy reforms and legislation to ensure for the rights of LGBT individuals.