Yesterday marked the first day for same-sex marriage in New York, with couples lined up outside of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to tie the knot. As seen in the Youtube video above, Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were there to wish the newlyweds well.
Meanwhile, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D- Manhattan, Brooklyn) issued the following press release re: new legislation which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton on December 21, 1996, defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The bill Congressman Nadler authored, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, would repeal the 1996 law and “grant federal recognition to all legally married couples.”
From the press release:
NEW YORK, NY – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) celebrated the beginning of marriage equality in New York and pushed for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act – legislation authored by Nadler and co-sponsored by Gillibrand in the Senate – to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a discriminatory 1996 law which prevents federal recognition of valid same-sex marriages.
The Respect for Marriage Act currently has 120 co-sponsors in the House and 27 in the Senate. Last week saw significant momentum for the bill, as President Obama officially endorsed it, and the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever hearing on the legislation.
“Today marks the first day that gay and lesbian New Yorkers can legally marry and, for the first time, same-sex couples are now equal in the eyes of State law,” said Congressman Nadler. “We should savor this historic moment, but there is still work to be done. Through DOMA, the federal government is actively discriminating against legally married same-sex couples – New Yorkers now among them – and refusing to recognize their marriages. This unjust and counterproductive law forces married gay and lesbian couples to endure dramatic financial and legal hardship, and this is utterly indefensible.”
“New York is sending a powerful message to the rest of the nation today as we once again lead the way for equal rights,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The right to get married and start a family is a basic, human right that must be shared by all Americans. Every loving, committed couple in America deserves this right. And no politician should stand in the way of this fact. But as hundreds of loving, committed couples celebrate this historic day by finally being able to marry the person they love, the fact remains that the federal Defense of Marriage Act will continue to discriminate against these loving committed couples. The work for full marriage equality is not done. If Democrats and Republicans can come together to do what’s right in New York, I know we can do the same in Congress to do what’s right for all of America. Now is the time to repeal this corrosive policy.”
“Marriage equality should not end at the borders of the few states where it exists, like New York State,” said Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “Our marriages must be recognized on the federal level as well, so our families can have equal access to the literally hundreds of protections that we are currently denied by our own government. Loving, committed couples deserve nothing less.”
“Today is a proud day for New Yorkers who value fairness, families and love,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “But our work will not be complete until the federal government recognizes the marriages of every couple who chooses to marry in New York and the nation.”
“Yesterday was a spectacular day, as thousands of loving, committed couples from throughout New York were finally free to celebrate their devotion by saying ‘I do,’” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry. “Yet while town clerks throughout New York state treat these marriages as fully equal, Uncle Sam treats them as second-class. That’s wrong, and it’s time to redouble our efforts to end marriage discrimination at the federal level once and for all. Freedom to Marry is proud to be partnering with Congressman Nadler, Senator Gillibrand, and other members of the New York congressional delegation to ensure that every couple married in New York can share in the critical safety-net of marriage.”
“The time has come to bring this country back to the ideals it was founded on,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, Board President of Marriage Equality New York. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. All people should be treated equally. America must be a leader in fair treatment for all families.”
DOMA singles out legally married gay and lesbian couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal responsibilities and rights, including programs like Social Security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.
The Respect for Marriage Act represents the consensus approach endorsed by the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators, and would ensure that valid marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with much-needed certainty that they will have the same access to federal responsibilities and rights as all other married couples.