LGBT Equality and Justice Day Kicks Off in Albany

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Right now hundreds of LGBT advocates and allies are gathered in a conference hall underneath the state house in Albany for what Assemblyman Sam Hoyt calls "a historic day that we're going to remember in the future as the catalyst that started marriage equality for gays and lesbians in New York State." (Gay senator Tom Duane called it "the best day ever, in Albany.") State representatives like Hoyt, Assemblyman Harry Bronson from Rochester, and Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy addressed the group, who traveled to the capital in order to lobby legislators for LGBT issues like transgender rights, health services, and, of course marriage, rights for gay and lesbian couples. "Marriage equality is a basic issue of civil rights," Duffy told a cheering crowd. "Nobody in this state should ever question or underestimate Governor Cuomo's commitment to marriage equality. The governor has made marriage equality one of his top three legislative issues this year." Duffy acknowledged the difficulties that a marriage bill would face in the Senate, but voiced optimism. "You have [Cuomo's] full support, you have my full support," he said. "We have a little fight ahead, but there's something special about this year."

Longtime gay advocate and the state's first openly gay elected representative Tom Duane then got up and railed against foes in the state senate.

"Those who are opposed to our right to marry are very powerful," he said. "Apparently, the Republican senators are just terrified that they are going to lose their conservative base and their seat if they vote for marriage. They think that’s the truth. We know differently." He then offered up an impromptu multiple-choice quiz to the crowd. Which of the following, he asked, is true?

A. "The senate is a homophobic cesspool."
B. "The senate is full of people who lack courage."
C. "The senate is filled with good people who fight for justice."
D. "All of the above."

"Too many of us have learned that you cannot take a senator’s word to the bank," he said, joking that, of course, the answer to the quiz was "D." "We were betrayed," he said, recalling the defeat of a marriage bill in 2009. "I was shocked. Even worse, I think some of them thought it was a joke. It wasn't a joke."