In a moving press conference this morning, Governor Paterson, flanked by Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and many other state leaders, announced the introduction of a same-sex marriage bill. A passionate Paterson began by connecting the fight for marriage equality to the nation’s history of striving to expand civil rights. “We wish to fulfill the dreams of those Americans, both the living and the dead, who have struggled unremittingly and courageously over the past two centuries to expand those freedoms to more Americans,” he said. “Often we have fallen short, but the marvel and miracle of America is that we keep marching forward for justice.” Throughout the presser Paterson dismissed the idea that voting on the bill without knowing if it will pass could set back the cause. “This is how you change social and public policy in this country, except in Albany,” he said, taking aim at the notoriously dysfunctional state government, “where there is no gravity, and the light waves bend right around the capital.”
The most moving speakers were those who are gay themselves, like State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblyman Dan O’Donnell, and Council Speaker Quinn. “I do not want a pew in your church, I do not want a seat in your synagogue, what I want is a piece of paper that is issued by my government that many of you have had, some of you have had it two or three times,” O’Donnell said, rebutting the religious opponents of same-sex marriage, including the city’s new archbishop. Quinn, calling today one of her proudest days as a New Yorker, asked if she and her partner were less equal than others. “Look me in the eye and really tell me I deserve less. Look me in the eye and tell me that Kim and I aren’t a family.” The mood overall was optimistic, if also cautious, and even sometimes triumphant, considering that gay marriage has come so far as to create such unity among state officials. Now comes the hard part — actually getting the bill passed.