New York Senator Charles Schumer
announced Monday that his opinion on gay and lesbian unions has
changed. He said he now supports gay marriage and the repeal of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
According to a press release issued by
Empire State Pride Agenda, a group that lobbies for passage of gay
marriage in the Empire State, Schumer expressed his support for gay
marriage at a Manhattan meeting on Sunday attended by New York GLBT
elected officials and leaders of the city's largest gay rights
Schumer had previously supported civil
unions for gay and lesbian couples. While civil unions offer many of
the benefits and obligations of marriage, they remain watered-down
versions of marriage.
“[E]quality is something that has
always been a hallmark of America,” the Senator said in a statement
to the New York Daily News.
“I want to thank Sen. Schumer for his
support of marriage equality and the repeal of the so-called Defense
of Marriage Act,” Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire
State Pride Agenda, said in a statement. “Like a majority of New
Yorkers, Sen. Schumer recognizes that only marriage equality provides
same sex couples the status, protections and rights afforded to all
other Americans. We look forward to working with him to win marriage
equality in New York State and around the country.”
Schumer's endorsement of gay marriage
comes nearly two months after New York Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand
offered hers. The state's governor, David Paterson, chose Gillibrand
to replace Senator Hillary Clinton after she was appointed by
President Obama to head the State Dept.
Last year, neither Schumer nor Clinton
backed gay marriage. Additionally as Vice Chair of the U.S. Senate's
Democratic Conference, Schumer becomes the highest ranking member of
the Senate to endorse marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
Activists were hopeful state Senate
leaders would pass a gay marriage bill this year, but Senate Majority
Leader Malcolm A. Smith admitted during a Human Rights Campaign
fundraiser last month that he does not have the votes to pass such a