New York senate rejects same-sex marriage bill

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Opponents of gay marriage were celebrating yesterday after New York State's senate rejected a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage, saying it was a huge victory that could influence votes elsewhere.

New York's bill was defeated 38-24 on Wednesday in the assembly, which is led by liberal New York City Democrats who hold a single-seat majority. It was a stunning result given that this was the last hurdle for the passage of the measure, which had been strongly pushed by the state's Democratic Governor David Paterson.

"It's just a huge win," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organisation for Marriage, a nonprofit organisation whose stated mission is to protect same-sex marriage. "It's going to help cement defeat for gay marriage in New Jersey, and I think it's going to get a whole bunch of politicians in New Hampshire who voted for gay marriage this year pretty nervous when they come up for election." She said the heavy defeat reflected faulty tactics by the bill's supporters, who she said hurt their cause by equating opponents of gay marriage to slave owners and Nazis.

"The gay marriage movement usually looks very smart," she said. "Now it looks flat-footed."

Richard Socarides, former President Bill Clinton's senior adviser on gay rights issues, called New York "clearly the biggest prize in this effort". "Not only will it affect a lot of people because New York is a big state," he said, "but symbolically New York is the country's leader in finance, the arts and culture. It's a bellwether for the country."]

So far this year, New Jersey failed to schedule long-expected votes on bills to legalise gay marriage, Maine voters rejected a measure and California voters rescinded their law. Supporters of same-sex marriage, however, point to Vermont and New Hampshire, where state assemblies adopted gay marriage bills this year. The city council in Washington DC is expected to legalise gay marriage next month. ap

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