Same-sex marriage coming to New York?

Gov. David Paterson plans to introduce legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages in the state.

Published April 14, 2009 3:35PM (EDT)

The New York Times reports that on Thursday New York Gov. David Paterson, will announce plans to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The news doesn't come as a complete surprise, as just last week, Paterson indicated that he wanted to put forward such a measure in order to force New York lawmakers to take a stand on the issue.

“I’m going to put the bill out and just let people fight it out... I would like to see the Legislature just debate the bills that people think are controversial,” Paterson said on a Buffalo radio station last week. Paterson has also said that he believes the state should show that it is determined to treat both same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally.

However, as the Times is quick to point out, Paterson's expected announcement doesn't mean that a decision on gay marriages in the state will necessarily occur anytime soon. It could easily take months before the bill actually makes it to a vote in the state legislature, and according to the Times, a majority of members of the state Senate oppose same-sex marriage.

A recent poll found that while only 41 percent of New York voters support same-sex marriage, an additional one-third of those polled said gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions. But Paterson may just be figuring that he has nothing to lose in introducing the measure. His popularity is already in the tank: Last week, Paterson registered the worst approval rating ever measured for a governor of New York.

Paterson's move comes less than a month after the Iowa Supreme Court declared a state law unconstitutional that confined marriage to opposite sex couples. In early April, the Vermont legislature also voted to legalize gay-marriage by overriding Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a measure permitting the practice.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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