December 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm EST | by Staff reports
N.Y. Senate rejects marriage bill

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage, dashing the hopes of supporters who were hoping the Empire State would become the largest in the country to allow gay nuptials.

The vote on the legislation in the Senate was 24-38. The bill failed after hours of emotional debate on the floor that was almost entirely in support of the bill.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, expressed disappointment over the result in a statement.

“While we are disappointed by today’s vote, we are pleased that the issue of marriage equality at last was debated in the New York State Senate,” he said. “We had long called for a public debate on this matter so we could determine who was truly on our side.”

A number of senators spoke in favor of the legislation on the Senate floor. State Sen. Tom Duane, a gay Democratic lawmaker and prime sponsor of the legislation, said during debate that the legislation “would merely provide me and tens of thousands of other New Yorkers with equal rights in New York State.”

“It would make me equal in every way to everyone else in this chamber,” he said.

The only person to speak against the bill during debate was State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., another Democrat, who criticized fellow lawmakers for ignoring religion on the issue.

“The Bible should never be left out,” he said. “You should carry the Bible all the time.”

Diaz said major religions – including Judaism, Islam and Catholicism – oppose same-sex marriage, and noted that same-sex marriage had failed in referenda in 31 states.

The legislation failed in the Senate even though the bill had support from the Assembly, which approved the legislation for a third time earlier in the day. Gov. David Paterson (D) also was a strong advocate for the marriage bill.

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