11:00am

Thu May 10, 2012
Regional Coverage

Cuomo calls President Obama's gay marriage support a 'major advancement'

Governor Cuomo, who won national praise and attention  for championing the passage of same sex marriage in New York, calls President Obama’s support of gay marriage a “major advancement for equal rights in this country."

Cuomo says he applauds the President’s courage and believes that Mr. Obama’s support will 'boost' efforts to advance marriage equality in many states, especially where efforts are underway to ban gay marriage. Cuomo believes it will help change minds.

"If he can revisit an issue, than so can I," Cuomo said.

The governor says it’s important that the President made clear that he considers gay marriage a civil issue, not a religious matter, something that was delineated in the New York law.

“It’s not a religious debate, you do what you want in your church or your temple. I’m not telling you what you should do in your church or your temple,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo met with President Obama briefly before the President’s appearance at Albany’s nano-science center on Tuesday, but he says the subject of legalizing same sex marriage did not come up.

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson also praises the President’s statements.  In an interview with public televisions’ New York Now, and public radio, Senator Sampson says he understands how the President’s views evolved  because he says he went through the same transformation,  partly after repeated talks with the Senate’s only openly gay members, Senator Tom Duane.  

“Initially I wasn’t in support of it,” said Sampson. “But my thought process evolved also.”

The Democrats provided the largest number of votes for the same sex marriage bill to pass in 2011, though Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who does not personally back gay marriage, agreed to put the bill on the floor for a vote.

The lone Senate Democrat to vote against the bill, self-professed conservative Democrat Ruben Diaz, calls gay marriage the 'Achilles heel' in New York State politics since it became law. In a statement, Diaz says since the vote to legalize same sex marriage, Republicans have won special elections for legislative races, even in Democratic dominated districts.

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