ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Following through on a campaign pledge, Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer unveiled a bill Friday that would legalize gay
'marriage' in New York — a bill he has conceded has almost no chance of passing.
Opposition from the Republican leader of the state Senate effectively blocks the legislation, which would make New York only the second state, after Massachusetts, to permit same-sex marriage.
"This legislation would create equal legal protection and responsibilities for all individuals who seek to marry or have their marriage protected in the state of New York," Spitzer said in a statement. "Strong, stable families are the cornerstones of our society. The responsibilities inherent in the institution of marriage benefit those individuals and society as a whole."
State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Friday that Spitzer "has his priorities wrong," noting the gay-marriage bill and other recent proposals from the new governor, including one to overhaul the state's campaign finance laws.
Bruno said Spitzer should be more worried about creating jobs and, given the fatal shooting of a state trooper this week, bringing back the death penalty for those who kill police officers. As Bruno spoke, Spitzer was headed to the Binghamton area to talk about economic development, an aide to the governor noted.
Spitzer said Monday the time was right to press ahead with the gay-marriage bill, despite its slim chances in the Legislature.
"I do not think there is a realistic shot that it gets passed, but I will submit it because it's a statement of principle that I believe in and I want to begin that dynamic," he said.
Spitzer's move drew praise from supporters of gay marriage.
"Today is a watershed moment in our community's struggle to win the freedom to marry in New York," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's largest homosexual rights advocacy group.
Spitzer's action comes a day after legislation allowing civil unions cleared the New Hampshire Legislature. Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign the bill, which allows gay couples to enter into unions that are not marriages but give them many of the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.
New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont already offer civil unions for gay couples. Washington, Maine, California, New York City and Washington D.C., recognize domestic partnerships.
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