Monday, May 9, 2011

Cuomo Leads Coordinated Push for Marriage Equality

Governor Cuomo has chosen to play a leading role in the fight for marriage equality in New York State, and he has prompted leading advocates for same-sex marriage to adopt unprecedented levels of coordination.

Marriage Equality in NY Would Create Jobs

As we stated in April of 2009, allowing same-sex couples to marry would improve the New York State economy and create jobs.
City Comptroller Bill Thompson produced a report in 2007 that attempted to estimate the economic impact of legalizing same-sex marriage. His analysis suggested that New York State would benefit from approximately $250 million of economic activity over three years simply from the weddings that would take place in the state after the legalization of same sex marriage. He also estimated that $175 million of the $250 million would be economic activity benefiting New York City.

Many couples living in New York City would take advantage of the new law and begin planning weddings, while both New York City and New York State would benefit from out-of-state couples coming to New York for their weddings. New York's hotels and banquet halls would see increased activity. The sooner New York State acts, the greater the benefit, as the lack of equivalent opportunities in neighboring states will increased the economic activity in New York State in the near term. Longer term, we'd expect neighboring states to follow our lead and provide equal rights to their residents irrespective of sexual orientation.
State-Sponsored Discrimination Should End

In that April 2009 posting we also discussed the need to end the discrimination against same-sex couples that is represented by the denial of the right to marry.
There are more than 1,100 federal rights and more than 1,300 New York State rights available to married couples that are not available to couples who are not married. Therefore, the prohibition against marriage for same sex couples in New York State who wish to marry is equivalent to the systematic denial of nearly 2,500 rights to those New Yorkers.

An excellent example of the types of rights that only married couple enjoy is the spousal privilege - a married person cannot be compelled to testify in court about communications with his or her spouse. Without marriage, there is no privilege, and same sex couples who wish to marry are left without this crucial protection.

Beyond the enormous psychological benefits of marriage, we must recognize that there are thousands of important rights that are available only to individuals who are married and that, by preventing some of our fellow New Yorkers from gaining the status of being married, we are participants in a state-sponsored discrimination exercise that attacks our neighbors.
Governor Cuomo Pursues Marriage Equality

He also has decided to push advocacy groups to band together to push marriage equality legislation forward. As described by the New York Times:

The most heartening new factor, though, is the active involvement of New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. His predecessor, David Paterson, also supported same-sex marriage, but he was too weak and unfocused to get the job done.

With Mr. Cuomo’s encouragement, the state’s most influential gay-rights groups have banded together to form a united front. Working under the guidance of Cuomo aides, their coalition is getting ready to mount an intense and well-financed campaign — including field organizers and a major media blitz — that would focus on about 15 Democratic and Republican lawmakers whose votes are thought to be in play. A seasoned labor and media strategist with close ties to Mr. Cuomo, Jennifer Cunningham, has been tapped to oversee the coalition’s political and media efforts.

Let us hope that Governor Cuomo's efforts result in marriage equality that will both make New York State a leader in human rights and provide New York State with badly needed new jobs.

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