The New York State assembly approved a same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday and is likely to face a vote in the Senate on Friday. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) introduced the bill where the Assembly voted 80-63 in favor of the marriage equality bill. The bill faces a much closer vote in the Senate, where support from only one more senator is necessary for it to pass. The state Senate had rejected a similar bill in 2009.
The bill, called the Marriage Equality Act, would grant same-sex couples the right to marry “as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. New York does not currently grant same-sex marriages, though a 2008 appellate court upheld the right of same-sex marriages to be recognized if they are performed in other states. A recent Siena poll found that 58% of New Yorkers support same-sex marriage. Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat who voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage, said “Only second-class states have second-class citizens.”
Same-sex marriage licenses are currently granted by five states – Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire – and the District of Columbia, and several other states allow civil unions. The issue is also currently being debated in California and New Jersey.