The New York State Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would have made New York the sixth state to allow gay marriage, stunning advocates such as Jimmy Van Bramer, the NYC councilman-elect who represents Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.
The New York measure needed 32 votes to pass and failed by a wider-than-expected margin, falling eight votes short in a 24-38 decision by the state Senate. The Assembly had earlier approved the bill, and Gov. David Paterson had pledged to sign it.
Council Members-elect Jimmy Van Bramer (26th District) and Danny Dromm (25th District), who made history last month by becoming the first openly gay elected officials in the borough of Queens, voiced deep disappointment with the five Queens State Senators who voted against the bill.
Van Bramer and Dromm also applauded the two Queens Senators who voted for the bill – Senate President Malcolm Smith and Senator Toby Stavisky – for their courage and leadership.
Van Bramer and Dromm expressed particular disappointment with the two Senators who represent them, George Onorato (Van Bramer) and Hiram Monserrate (Dromm), who voted no.
Onorato has been targeted by advocates over his stance throughout the year. Same-sex marriage advocates have held a number of rallies in Astoria. However, Onorato has been clear for some time that he opposes gay marriage, but had promised not to block it from getting to the senate floor for a vote.
District 26 Council Member-elect Van Bramer said: “Today was an opportunity to celebrate and honor our diversity, to take a stand for human rights and human dignity,” adding that “Two members of the Queens delegation – Senators Smith and Stavisky – embraced this vision. But sadly, five other Queens Senators voted to deny a basic civil right to their own constituents. Their views are not representative of a diverse, inclusive borough that just elected two openly gay elected officials for the first time.”
New York State also doesn’t allow civil unions, but has several laws, executive orders and court decisions that grant many of the rights to gays long enjoyed by married couples.