This past Friday, the 24th, four days after the legislative calendar was scheduled to end, the New York Legislature wrapped up the 2011 legislative session in the late hours of the evening. After days of keeping constituents, and other legislators alike, waiting and guessing on several key issues, the Republican Majority in the Senate finally brought the final bills to the floor, allowing us to pass critical legislation that, among other things, renews and strengthens the rent regulation laws and grants same sex couples the right to marry.
MARRIAGE: Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted saying “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Since joining the legislature in 2002 I have co-sponsored legislation that would provide marriage equality for same sex couples. For me, this has always been a matter of basic human rights and I have always felt that until we passed a law allowing for same sex marriage, we were legally permitting prejudice in New York. So it was with great pride and a heart full of happiness, that I joined 32 other Senate colleagues to vote for the legal recognition of same sex marriage in New York. With this historic vote, New York has become the sixth, and largest, State to legally recognize same sex marriage.
I applaud the tireless effort of the countless advocates who fought with their heart and soul to see this measure passed, without their effort this monumental achievement would not have been reached. I will never forget the moment the final vote was tallied and I will always be proud to have been a part of this movement that was rooted in love, respect for family and a longing for equality.
RENT: When voting to renew and strengthen rent regulation laws for another four years, we took an important first step in reversing a damaging 18 year trend that has increasingly led to the destabilization of more than 300,000 homes. Now, I will not pretend this legislation accomplished all that we wanted. In fact, it merely scratches the surface of the improvements we wished to enact. The unfortunate reality is that we were up against a Republican majority in the Senate, who had deep ties to the real estate industry, and we had to fight tooth and nail for these basic improvements.