Former President Bill Clinton released a statement today through the Human Rights Campaign saying New York State should continue the nation’s efforts to strengthen the rights of its people by enacting “marriage equality.”
Clinton’s statement comes at a time when many political observers in New York believe supporters of a same-sex marriage bill, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have lined up the votes needed to pass the bill in the New York Senate.
The state Senate defeated a same-sex marriage bill in 2009 in a development that stunned supporters who thought they had the votes to pass it. At the time, Democrats controlled the N.Y. Senate by a slim margin.
The Democratic controlled State Assembly approved the bill that year and is expected to vote in favor of the marriage equality measure this year by a lopsided margin.
Republicans have since won a 32-30 majority in the 62-member Senate. But LGBT advocates are hopeful that between four and six GOP senators will vote for the bill when it’s expected to come up on the Senate floor in June, possibly just before New York City’s annual LGBT Pride parade and festival are set to take place. At least 28 Democratic senators have said they expect to vote for the bill, according to insiders monitoring the campaign to pass the measure.
“Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ – deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community,” Clinton said in his statement. “That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation,” he said.
“Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statute of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality,” Clinton said.
HRC said in its own statement today that Clinton’s endorsement of a N.Y. marriage bill comes at a time when public opinion polls show a record 58 percent of New Yorkers support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.
“This unprecedented level of support comes from every region of the state, every age group, and is clearly bipartisan,” HRC said in its statement.
Clinton’s statement also comes after the New York Times reported that prominent business leaders in the state, including the chief executive officer of the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, have endorsed the same-sex marriage bill pending in the legislature.
The Times reported that two-dozen “high-profile” business leaders released a joint letter urging the legislature to pass the marriage equality bill, saying it would be good for business.
“There is enormous momentum right now all across the state for marriage equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We are grateful to President Clinton for adding his voice to the mainstream majority who support loving couples getting married in New York.”