"The state Legislature has taken a bold step toward ensuring equal rights to gay and lesbian couples by allowing them to legally marry.

"On behalf of the State Bar Association, I extend my congratulations to the gay and lesbian community and all those who care about equal treatment of all New Yorkers.

"Today's vote is a tribute to the tenacity of marriage equality supporters, and the courage of those legislators who recognized the time had come to pass this law. It also is a tribute to the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo. This much-needed legislation was strongly supported by the State Bar and many other bar associations around the state.
 
"In 2005, our House of Delegates called for granting same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities available to heterosexual couples by legalizing either same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions. In June 2009, the State Bar, concluding that civil unions confer an inferior status, endorsed legalization of same-sex marriage as the only option for ensuring equal rights.
 
"For the State Bar Association, it came down to a legal issue--the disparate treatment of a group of people because of who they are.  When the issue was debated within our committees and House of Delegates, there was an overwhelming consensus that this discrimination was wrong and that as lawyers, we should advocate its end.
 
"Passing this legislation was a top legislative priority for the State Bar Association, because it concerns fairness and equity under the law and it is sound public policy. Permitting marriage would relieve the tens of thousands of same-sex couples in our state and their children from the legal limbo that now surrounds them.  
 
"I believe that the Association will look back at our advocacy as a shining moment in our history."
 
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

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Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services
lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518/487-5530