With the State Senate’s vote on same-sex marriage Friday, the letdown for supporters in 2009, when a similar bill was shot down, has at last subsided. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.
December 2, 2009 was a bleak day for those wanting same-sex marriage in New York. State Senators handily defeated their long-sought bill, leaving the movement discouraged and engaged in bitter sniping.
Angry voters protested the vote in Times Square.
"What they did in Albany was a crime,” said one.
“As a gay woman who is black, I feel very disturbed about the trend that this country is taking,” said another.
Almost 600 days later, however, gay marriage has been signed into law in New York State, and the failed vote then has turned out to be a blip.
With Republican support, gay rights here have steadily grown. Some say same-sex marriage was inevitable with the right campaign.
To that end, in New Paltz, marriages had been done in a kind of civil disobedience, but soon after, the state's top court ruled they were illegal, with only the legislature and the governor able to change the law.
The next two governors tried their hand at marriage equality, but, undistracted, Governor Andrew Cuomo found the formula.
He dealt with painful budget matters first, unlike in 2009, and he told competing groups they needed to link.
Those groups ended up meeting on the 38th floor in Cuomo's Manhattan offices.
They all wanted the same thing but had different and sometimes competing strategies for how to do it.
Lawmakers noticed their lack of unity.
"We were hearing within the capital some question about whether our community could be united and be the strong force that we were," said Ross Levi of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
They abandoned at least some of the confrontational tactics they once wielded.
Meanwhile, at the ballot box, gay rights money helped knock off two same-sex marriage opponents even as Republicans won back the State Senate.
Cuomo is offering them shelter with his sky-high approval.
To Republican activist and author Margaret Hoover, conservatives shouldn't have to worry about fallout. Although there's evidence to the contrary nationally, she believes the party is changing.
"I think there is a concerted effort to try to minimize Republicans who believe in individual freedoms, who believe in gay rights,” said Hoover. “And I think that that is not a winning formula, especially for connecting with the next generation."
The State Senators appeared to agree.