08/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Demand Justice for LGBT New Yorkers

Over the last six years, six states have legalized gay marriage - a real sign of progress. For our nation to become a place where all people are free to marry whomever they chose, this battle must now be fought and won on the local level, right here in New York.

In May, the New York State Assembly passed a bill granting the right to same-sex marriage. It is time for the New York State Senate to finally guarantee that all New Yorkers have the same rights and privileges by also passing Marriage Equality legislation. New York State should be leading the charge on this issue, not standing on the sidelines. This is our moment as a City and a State to use our advocacy to press for real and historic change in our country.

This is hardly the first time New Yorkers have stood up for equality and won. Most recently, I joined the Empire State Pride Agenda, local leaders, and activists to demand that the Obama Administration reverse its policy of excluding same-sex couples from the Census count by refusing to record them as married, even if they lived in a state where same-sex marriage was legal. Thanks to our hard work, the Obama administration decided to include same-sex couples in the 2010 census, an important step that reaffirmed the founding ideal of our nation: that all Americans count, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

In New York City, we strive to ensure all people are accepted regardless of race, religion, or sexuality. Yet our state still denies same-sex couples many basic rights, like shared health-care benefits, medical decision-making, and tax relief. All of these rights start with Marriage Equality, which will only be won through grassroots action at the local level. As Public Advocate, I will organize from the bottom up to pursue the basic rights that New York's same-sex couples are entitled to and deserve.

With only a handful of days remaining until the State Senate goes on summer recess, our City's residents must stand up now for the thousands of LGBT New Yorkers who need our support. If you live in New York, please visit my website,, or the Empire State Pride Agenda's Action Center,, to find out how to reach out to your State Senator and call for them to act on Marriage Equality before it's too late.

After the strain of the leadership battles of the past month in our State, it would be easy to sweep Marriage Equality under the rug. Some may say this fight will be too hard and too perilous to have now. But large-scale social change never comes easily. Despite the possibility for additional turmoil in our legislature, we cannot give up on one of the core social issues of our time. Winning equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers will only happen if we demand it. Pick up the phone today and make your voice heard.