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Advocates, Cuomo Administration Worked Closely To Ensure Legalized Same-Sex Marriage

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After the gay marriage bill failed in the State Senate in 2009, advocates regrouped, launching a renewed effort that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal in New York two years later. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

Twelve days before same-sex marriage was legalized in New York, it became increasingly clear, as support within the Legislature grew, that the bill's passage was not a far-off dream for supporters.

"Unquestionably, the biggest moments were the reveals of the two Republicans who were 'yes' votes," said Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign.

Gay marriage proponents say the push began with the 2010 elections, when they picked up two more votes in the senate.

The momentum gained steam after a united coalition of gay rights groups met with Governor Andrew Cuomo and his staff in March, mapping out their strategy to get the bill passed.

"We met internally on this issue, I would say, almost every day," said State Deputy Secretary of Civil Rights Alphonso David.

"There was basically, from April until the vote, a planned media hit every day," said Ross Levi of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Around $2 million was spent on that media blitz.

Advocates and the Cuomo administration also secured financial support from wealthy Republican donors for Republican senators who, in the process of supporting the measure, were in danger of losing conservative support.

"This is a political process, so elected officials that voted for marriage were certainly threatened," said David. "Everyone is mindful of that."

Advocates credit their united front, their focus on bipartisan support and increased public approval of same-sex marriage for their success, but say the key was really a governor who was invested.

"I do think Andrew Cuomo was one of the indispensable parts of this campaign, for sure," said Levi.

David said being intimately involved in the effort was a priority for the administration.

"With the change of the law, finally the State government is saying to them that they have value," David said. "That's why this was so personal, that's why this was so important."

The next move now for advocates, and even at least one Republican senator, is sharing their strategy.

"We're going to try and win the freedom to marry in other states and we're going to also keep challenging the so-called 'Defense Of Marriage Act,'" said Ellner.

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