New York Representative Daniel
O'Donnell is engaged to be married.
The 50-year-old O'Donnell has on four
occasions successfully championed a gay marriage bill in the New York
Assembly. Twice the Senate refused to vote on the proposed
legislation, in 2009 they rejected it, but on Friday it cleared the
chamber and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, making
New York the largest state yet to legalize gay marriage.
“My partner John Banta and I have
been together for 31 years. We’ve always been engaged in our
hearts, but now that Marriage Equality has passed, we’re engaged
with the knowledge that soon we will be legally married in the state
we were born, raised, and lived our adults lives,” O'Donnell told
On Top Magazine in an email.
An O'Donnell staffer added that there
are no wedding details yet, “but they're hoping to determine soon
when and where the wedding will take place.”
O'Donnell and Banta met at Catholic
University in 1978, and the men began dating two years later. The
Assemblyman often brings Banta, the director of special events for
the Metropolitan Opera, to legislative gatherings. O'Donnell told
the New York Times he brings Banta along so his colleagues can
see what a gay couple looks like.
“That wasn't accidental,” he told
the paper. “I knew if I wanted my colleagues to treat me and treat
my community with equality, they would have to see John and I through
the prism of a relationship.”
He told a circle of students with the
LGBT group Q that gay marriage was deeply personal for him but “I
don't think, in the end, to most people, that this really matters.”
Adding that young people especially understand that it's about love.
In 2008, the salt-and-pepper goteed
assemblyman appeared in the premiere episode of A Bear's Life's
online video magazine. (The video is embedded in the right panel of