Gay rights groups cheered last year
when New York Senator Charles Schumer announced his opinion on gay
and lesbian unions had changed. He said he now supports gay marriage
and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law
that defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies.
The endorsement came two months after
New York Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand offered hers.
A new poll released Friday shows voters
are likely to return both Democrats to Washington.
The poll of likely voters by Quinnipiac
University shows Gillibrand holds a 21-point lead over her rival,
former U.S. Representative Joseph DioGuardi, while Schumer leads
Republican businessman Jay Townsend by more than 30 points.
“If Republicans are going to take
back the U.S. Senate, it doesn't look as if New York will be much
help,” the survey's authors said in a statement.
Previous to last year, Schumer had
supported civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Gillibrand, who
was appointed by Governor David Paterson to replace outgoing Senator
Hillary Clinton after she was appointed by President Obama to head
the State Department, announced her support for marriage equality at
a press conference announcing her appointment.
In 2008, neither Schumer nor Clinton
backed gay marriage.
As Vice Chair of the U.S. Senate's
Democratic Conference, Schumer is the highest ranking member of the
Senate to endorse marriage for gay couples.
Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic state
attorney general who is running for governor, holds an 18-point lead
over Republican Carl Paladino, a Tea Party favorite, the Quinnipiac
poll showed. Cuomo has pledged to sign a gay marriage bill into law.
New York lawmakers are expected to
reconsider legalizing gay marriage in the state next year. Last
year, senators killed a measure that would have legalized the
marriage advocates have targeted for ouster senators who voted
against the measure.