Bill sponsored by Rosie O’Donnell’s gay brother is unlikely to be heard by state Senate, meaning it won’t become law this year
ALBANY, N.Y. New York’s state Assembly approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage after an emotional three-hour debate, but the bill is not expected to be acted on any time soon in the Republican-led state Senate.
The legislation, sponsored by Democrat Daniel O’Donnell, the gay brother of entertainer Rosie O’Donnell and backed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, was approved Tuesday, June 19, 85-61 in the Democratic Assembly.
“It was a monumental margin of victory,” O’Donnell told Dallas Voice on Thursday. “It’s a huge step. …
“They know my partner,” he said of Assembly members. “They’ve been out to dinner with my partner. Many of them have been to my home. It’s much harder for them to say no to a person than to say no to an idea.”
O’Donnell told his colleagues that civil unions were not an adequate substitute for full marriage.
“It will not provide equality for people like me,” he said.
But Republican Assemblyman Brian Kolb, taking note of “the nuns who taught me in grammar school” and his marriage in the Catholic Church, said he could not support the move.
“I do feel threatened. I do feel harmed,” he said. “It’s a direct challenge to me and how I was brought up.”
Same-sex marriage is legal only in Massachusetts. The California Legislature approved a measure to allow gay marriage in 2005, but it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A handful of U.S. states allow civil unions or similar arrangements.
New York state does not currently allow civil unions.
“We’re not doing gay marriage by Thursday that’s for sure, or this year,” Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno declared Tuesday morning as lawmakers wound down their annual legislative session, which was due to wrap up on Thursday. The bill would also need to be approved by the Senate to become law.
New Yorkers are split over the gay marriage issues.
A statewide poll out Tuesday from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found 35 percent of registered voters supported gay marriage while another 35 percent supported civil unions but not same-sex marriage. Twenty-two percent of voters said there should be no legal recognition of same-sex unions.
As the voting ended on Tuesday, openly gay Democrat Matthew Titone rose with his cell phone in his hand.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 22, 2007.