US - Brighton legislation supports same-sex couples

22 Jul 2009

By Shawn Arrajj, correspondent

Brighton, N.Y. -- .The Brighton Town Board passed a resolution July 8 supporting legislation pending in the state Senate to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex and opposite-sex couples in New York.

"Brighton is an inclusive and welcoming community that respects diversity," said Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel. "We have long supported civil rights and equal treatment for all under the law. We urge the New York Senate to debate and to vote in support of equal rights for same-sex couples."

The resolution was passed by all board members in attendance at the July 8 meeting; Jim Vogel was out of town, however, and did not vote on the measure. The board has passed copies of the resolution on to Sen. Joe Robach, R; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; and Gov. David Paterson.

The Senate is expected to begin taking on the proposed legislation for equal marriage rights in September.

Sue Cowell, the executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in Rochester, pointed out the significance of getting elected officials to make the Senate aware of where they stand.

"It's really means a lot. We encourage all elected officials to take a position and let our state Senate know that they're being watched and expected to come to a decision on this issue," she said.

"The community notices this kind of thing as well," she said. "It means a lot to them, too."

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are all in the process of legalizing same-sex marriages in the near future.

Compared to these states, New York is lagging, according to Cowell, who would like to see the issue discussed more by the Senate.

"We're New York. We're supposed to be the leaders," she said.

Frankel said she has been a supporter of equal rights for all people since she first came to the Brighton Town Board.

"I am fully in support of marriage equality and believe that civil marriage should be offered to all committed couples," she said. "From my point of view, civil rights are paramount, and equal treatment is essential to end discrimination."

Frankel also stressed the importance of respecting the religious beliefs of those who are against gay marriage.

"The pending legislation in the state Senate makes clear the separation of church and state, as it should," she noted.

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