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After years of legal and political advocacy, New York will soon become the sixth state where same-sex couples will enjoy the freedom to marry. The State Senate just voted 33 to 29 to approve the marriage equality bill. It's thrilling news!
Equality has momentum. In addition to the six states with marriage equality, same-sex couples can also marry in the nation's capital, and 18,000 couples legally married in California before Proposition 8 was passed. That's equality for thousands of loving couples across the country.
It takes a lot of people working together to make history. We congratulate our colleagues at Empire State Pride Agenda and our other sister organizations who formed New Yorkers United for Marriage and fought so hard for this victory, and all the activists and allies in New York who wrote letters and made phone calls. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership, and we are proud of the state legislators who voted for equality.
The path to equality in New York, as in other states, has had twists and turns. In 2004, Lambda Legal brought a marriage equality lawsuit in state court (Hernandez v. Robles) and while we won an early victory at the trial court, that decision was later overturned. But we never stopped fighting for the rights of same–sex couples and their families in New York. We won legal battles to establish recognition of out–of–state marriages, and just last year, we won a high court decision protecting the parental rights of a lesbian mother.
New York has a special meaning for us—it is the place where Lambda Legal opened its doors in 1973, and our headquarters are located here. It is one of the most populous states in the nation and home to a very large and diverse LGBT community.
But we still have work to do—in New York and across the country. For example, New York still has not enacted a state law protecting transgender people against discrimination and it is long past time to get that done. And in many states, LGBT people still do not have basic protections against discrimination at work, in school and in their families.
Victories in one state just make us work harder for equality for everyone. Thank you for supporting equality and the work that we do!