New York Governor David Paterson
(Pic David Shankbone)

Gays and lesbians in the US state of New York are in shock following the dramatic defeat of a same-sex marriage bill in that state’s Senate with a vote of 24 for and 38 against.

Most surprisingly, eight Democrats voted against the legislation, directly resulting in its failure to pass the Senate and sparking the anger of gay Democratic voters. There were no Republican votes in favour of the legislation.

“I understand the anger; I understand the frustration; I understand the feeling of betrayal; and I understand the profound disappointment of those who came to Albany today thinking they could get married tomorrow. But I am also here to tell you that we are not back to square one,” said New York Governor David Paterson, who supported the bill.

“…this is a fight that is bigger than one legislative vote. This is a civil rights issue. Marriage equality is as important as the emancipation of any group from oppression and the granting of equal rights to any community,” he said, vowing to continue the fight for marriage equality in New York.

“Today’s vote is a vote against equal treatment for all New York families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The Senate voted to continue to impose tangible, unacceptable harms on same-sex couples and their families. While some couples may be fortunate enough to travel out of state to marry and receive the protections that every family deserves, the current state of New York law leaves many families behind.”

Only five states in the US currently recognise marriage for same-sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Five other states – California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada – as well as Washington, D.C. provide state same-sex couple benefits either through civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin provide same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits, while New York and Washington, D.C. recognise marriages of same-sex couples entered into outside of their jurisdictions. Same-sex couples are not eligible to receive any federal benefits anywhere in the US.

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