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Both Sides Of Gay Marriage Debate Rally In Midtown

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Both sides of the gay marriage debate rallied yesterday in Midtown Manhattan to voice their opinions as the State Senate prepares to take up gay marriage legislation in Albany.

Advocates of same-sex marriage, including Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, "Sex In The City" actress Cynthia Nixon, the cast of Broadway's "Hair" and thousands of other actors held a Midtown rally in Midtown.

"It goes way back, so it's really cool to see all the people in favor of it down Sixth Avenue," said gay rights advocate Christopher Sieber.

Now that the State Assembly has passed a same-sex marriage bill, the governor said it is time for the State Senate to make New York the sixth state in the country where gay marriage is allowed.

"More and more, I think people understand that this is an eventuality. But when you think of all of the the people who would like to be married and can't be and the frustration they feel, there's no time like the present," said Paterson.

The governor also acknowledged that there are basic problems with the state recognizing civil commitments in lieu of gay marriage.

"When are we going to admit that civil commitment does not provide for 1,324 protections that marriage does?" said Paterson.

Bloomberg also said that state government had no right to infringe on the right to marry.

"I personally believe that the government shouldn't tell people who they can and can't marry," said the mayor.

He also said that in order for the legislation to pass, the constituency upstate and downstate would need to be very vocal.

"[Albany lawmakers] can't hear us from here. The only thing they hear is when you call them on the phone or email, write them a letter," said Bloomberg. "This is my issue. I'm going to vote depending on the way you vote."

Meanwhile, 10,000 demonstrators for the New York Hispanic Clergy rallied against same-sex marriage rallied yesterday outside the governor's Midtown office, and asked for lawmakers to vote down the legislation.

Protesters cited the canons of Christianity and vowed to fight efforts threatening their belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

"They are deciding their vote on what they feel, on what others have said, but many are not going by what the Book said, what the Bible said," said evangelist Diane Rivera.

"This is not an anti-gay rally, this is not about the Church being homophobic, this is about the Church saying 'Do not violate my religious freedoms,'" said the Reverend Daniel Delgado.

The State Senate is expected to take up same sex marriage legislation this week.

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