The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered today at the State Capitol after meeting with the State Senate Republican Conference. Click here for video of the Mayor's remarks.
“If you remember, at our founding, African-Americans were held in bondage. Catholics in New York could not hold office. Those without property could not vote. Women could not vote or hold office. And homosexuality, in some places, was a crime punishable by death.
“One by one, over many long years, the legal prohibitions to freedom and equality were overcome – some on the battlefield, some at the State House, and some in the courthouse.
“Throughout our history, each and every generation has expanded upon the freedoms won by their parents and grandparents. Each and every generation has removed some of the barriers to full participation in the American dream. And the next great barrier standing before our generation is the prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples.
“Over the past several weeks, I have met with many Republican Senators to talk about marriage equality – and I know how seriously and how rigorously they are all weighing this issue. I was deeply moved by the conversation I recently had with Senator McDonald, who spoke so lovingly about his grandkids, and how they had given him new wisdom. And I was just as moved when he and Senator Alesi came out and spoke so forcefully and bluntly about why they will vote in favor of marriage equality. That took real courage, and I thanked both of them for it.
“In all of my conversations with Senators – Senator Lanza, Senator Flanagan, Senator Grisanti, and many others – I could see how personal this was to them and their families, how carefully they were listening to both their parents and children, and how earnestly they are struggling to find the right answers.
“This is not an easy issue – and I understand there’s a lot of pressure on Senators from different sides, and a lot of concern about what their constituents will think. This morning, I told them I remember being in their shoes. I wasn’t sure what to think of the issue when it first came up years ago. But what ended up really convincing me was something very simple, something that Republicans fight for every single day – keeping government out of areas where it does not belong.
“I’ve never fit perfectly into either party, but to me, one of the virtues of the GOP has always been its efforts to promote freedom – freedom from over-regulation by government of markets, of businesses, of schools, and, most importantly, of our individual lives. The Republican party stands for personal liberty and freedom. I see marriage equality as entirely consistent with that – and more and more of the party’s supporters and activists see it that way as well.
“There was an op-ed in the Daily News yesterday by Margaret Hoover – a Fox News commentator and the great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover. She argued that marriage equality is consistent with conservative values because marriage is a force for stability between couples, and making them less likely to need government assistance. And I think she’s right. Marriage is also force for stability in families. Gay and lesbian New Yorkers have children, and it doesn’t do society any good to prevent their parents from marrying. And marriage is a force for stability in communities – as fifty years of social science research tells us.
“So for all of these reasons, the Republican Party has always promoted marriage – and rightly so. For the very same reasons, the conservative case for marriage equality is principled and consistent. And the religious exemption makes clear that religious organizations will continue to be free to practice their faiths as they see fit.
“I also spoke with the Senators about how ten, or twenty, or thirty years from now, each of us will look back at only a handful of moments that defined our careers in public service. I think this is one of those moments. And I just asked them to follow their hearts and their principles. That way, no matter how they vote, they will have no regrets. And I still believe if they do vote their hearts and principles, New York State will become the next state to adopt marriage equality. Because based on my conversations with Senators, I believe that if the bill comes to the floor, it will pass. And I’m very hopeful that will be any day now. And I also wanted to commend the Governor for being a leader on this issue. Andrew Cuomo specifically said where he stood, and he’s fighting to uphold his beliefs. I’d be happy to take a few questions.”