Same-sex Marriage

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney Weds This Weekend

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and his partner of 21 years, Randy Gene Florke, will tie the knot this weekend at the Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands in their adopted home town of Cold Spring, the Hudson Valley Democrat’s office confirmed.

The Rev. Fr. Shane Scott-Hamblen will conduct the ceremony. The couple’s three children – Reinel (24), Daley (13) and Essie (11) – will undoubtedly be on hand.

Maloney and Florke, a real estate and design executive in New York City for The Rural Connection, Inc., got engaged this past Christmas Day at the urging of their kids – in fact, their youngest daughter had specifically asked Santa Claus to let her fathers get married. “They are a loving couple,” she wrote.

The couple had previously pledged not to wed until marriage equality was established at the federal level. New York legalized same-sex marriage in July 2011. They reportedly discussed marrying after the US Supreme Court  struck down a crucial section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, but didn’t actually decide to take the plunge until their children made it clear how important it was for them to see their two dads marry.

The DCCC sent out an email earlier today alerting supporters to the impending Maloney-Florke nuptials, and noting that Maloney is one of just six LGBT members of Congress and the first openly gay member from New York.

“That Sean and Randy can marry is a reminder of what we’re fighting for! Love is love, and we want to celebrate these two and their AMAZING family,” the email reads. “We want to celebrate their marriage and wanted you to have an opportunity to join us! We’re going to present Sean and Randy with a guest book on their wedding day — full of your names and support.”

The email also includes a link to an on-line “guestbook,” which seems a lot like it might double as a campaign organizing tool. (It’s paid for by Maloney’s campaign).

Maloney is running for re-election to a second two-year term this fall. He’s facing the Republican he ousted in 2012, former Rep. Nan Hayworth.

Paladino: The Hasidics ‘Set Me Up’ With Anti-Gay Statement

Carl Paladino, who is mulling a re-match against Gov. Andrew Cuomo next fall, is still angry about an incident during his failed 2010 bid during which he stood with Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn and pledged to “oppose the homosexual agenda” – especially same-sex marriage – and said children should not be “brainwashed” into believing that being gay is acceptable.

The Buffalo businessman was roundly condemned for his comments, sopme of which were written for him by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who endorsed Paladino’s run for governor and advised him in his effort to woo conservative Jewish voters.

The incident came up when Paladino was interviewed on Dec. 2 on 100.7 FM WUTQ, and the hosts suggested the erstwhile candidate had been wrongly portrayed by the “liberal media” as anti-gay.

“Wait a minute,” Paladino retorted. “I got set up by the Hasidics in New York. They set me up on that. I never had a problem with a gay person in my life. That’s total, God-damned nonsense, and I don’t put up with that, all right? They’ll paint me as not politically correct, and they’re perfectly right.”

Paladino went on to say that he had made “mistakes” during his campaign, and considered his reading of Levin’s prepared remarks one of them. He didn’t apologize outright, but did say he felt “terrible” about the incident.

“…Listen, I was a big boy,” Paladino said. “I knew it was a very blue state. I went up there and I laid out values, all right? They wanted to bring me down on social values. And I, being the first time I ever ran for anything, I made a lot of mistakes. And one of them was reading that stupid paper drafted by those Hasidics without having it properly vetted by my campaign manager.”

“That was a terrible, terrible thing. And I felt terrible about it. And I certainly am not anti-gay and I’m not a racist, OK? I will say whatever I please, OK, to anybody who I think is wrong, and then when you want to play the anti-gay and you want to play the racist cards, that’s what they do when devoid of any other excuse for their bad behavior.”

Paladino’s position on social issues will no doubt be back in the spotlight if he chooses to go forward with another run for governor, though this time he has said he will only seek the Conservative line and not participate in the GOP primary.

Could Dante Inspire Kim Catullo to Hit the Trail?

Quality family time for Bill de Blasio may not be barbeques or picnics in Prospect Park. This summer it’s the campaign trail.

De Blasio has attracted a lot of attention for putting his family front and center at many of his campaign events. So it may not come as a surprise his first TV spot features his son, Dante.

Christine Quinn often has her father, Larry Quinn, by her side. But her wife, Kim Catullo, is rarely seen at political events. Although she did walk the Gay Pride Parade this year.

So could de Blasio’s family inspire Quinn?

We asked today. The answer: Not sure.

A: I haven’t seen the ad. I suspect there will be lots of ads soon. It’s getting to that time of year. But I haven’t seen it. And Bill has a lovely family. A lovely family, and I know he is incredibly proud of them and he has every right to be. They really are a terrific group of folks. A lovely family.

Q: Can we expect to see Kim out more on the campaign trial?

A: (Laughter) You never know.


State Will Refund Estate Tax To Same-Sex Couples

In the wake of the decision to strike down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, the state will make available estate tax refunds to eligible married same-sex couples.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance has a memorandum explaining the eligibility.

The refunds are available after New York City resident Edie Windsor sued the government after she was denied an IRS refund request for $363,000 in federal estate taxes paid after spouse died in 2009.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA was a groundbreaking civil rights victory that brought the LGBT community closer to the true meaning of equal rights under the law,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “As a result of that decision, New York State is now able to issue refund checks to qualified same-sex spouses who were required to pay taxes for no reason other than their sexual orientation. This financial compensation is one more step toward justice for Edie Windsor, and all of the men and women who confronted similar indifference at a time of deep personal loss.”

New York’s same-sex marriage law was approved in June 2011 and took effect a month later on July 24. But state officials determined the act would take effect for the estates of those who died on or after the effective date of July 24.

The DOMA decision means the look-back period now covers those in same-sex marriages who died before July 24, 2011.

“Now, taxpayers affected by the Supreme Court decision may amend any previously filed estate tax return where the statute of limitations to apply for a refund remains open,” said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox.

Cuomo’s announcement on the refund eligibility included a laudatory happy quote from Windsor.

“I want to thank Governor Cuomo, who is a true hero in the struggle for the freedom to marry,” she said. “I am of course thrilled that I will be getting a refund of the estate tax that I never should have had to pay in the first place. What makes me even happier, however, is the fact that no other gay person will ever again have to face the indignity of DOMA. Governor Cuomo has once again kept his promise of equality for all.”

m13_9m by Nick Reisman

Savoring An Old Victory While In The Jaws Of Defeat

From Liz’s Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent out not one, but two emails yesterday in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s twin rulings boosting same-sex marriage – both of which highlighted his own success on this issue two years ago this week.

The first arrived in my YNN in-box shortly after 4 p.m., and came from Cuomo’s taxpayer-funded government account. The subject line: “Groundbreaking Civil Rights Victories Today.”

The focus: The court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied benefits to couples that wed in the 12 states and Washington, D.C. where same-sex marriage is legal.

“Two years ago, New York became the largest state to enact marriage equality, and since then we have seen a growing recognition across the country that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law, regardless of sexual orientation,” Cuomo wrote.

“From the Stonewall Riots 44 years ago this week, to the passage of marriage equality in New York, to today’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act that originated from a case brought by a New York resident, this state has been at the forefront of this movement.”

“It is my hope that today’s breakthrough decisions will propel our nation forward and finally allow all Americans to be granted the same rights and protections under the law.”

The second email was sent to my personal account from the governor’s campaign committee, Cuomo 2014, and arrived a little after 5 p.m.

This time, the subject line was “Proud Moment for the Nation.” And this time, the message that New York – and, more specifically, Cuomo himself – played a key role in getting the country to this watershed moment was considerably stronger.

“This is a movement that was started in New York and has been advanced by New York,” the email reads. (It was signed simply, “The Andrew Cuomo Committee”).

“The Stonewall Riots forty-four years ago this Friday began the long march to equal rights. And since Governor Cuomo signed New York’s Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, other states across the nation have followed our lead.”

“We have never been closer to realizing the ideals of equality our nation is founded on – the establishment of laws that treat all of our citizens equally. The fight for marriage equality in every state in the nation doesn’t stop here; it simply brings us ever closer to achieving equality for all.”

There’s also a link to a page on Cuomo’s campaign website that asks supporters to “sign up to continue the fight for equality” – a handy data-gathering tool in advance of the governor’s 2014 run for re-election.

Cuomo has repeatedly said he believes his two biggest achievements since taking office in January 2011 were getting the divided Legislature to pass gay marriage and gun control.

Both of those just so happen to be issues of national significance – a fact that is not lost on observers who believe Cuomo is laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run in 2016.

The emails Cuomo sent yesterday give a very early clue to an argument he would likely make if he indeed decides to take a step onto the national stage: Under my leadership, New York led the nation on touchstone progressive issues, not only becoming the largest state in the country (before the US Supreme Court Prop. 8 decision) to legalize gay marriage, but also the first to act on gun control in the wake of the horrific Newtown massacre.

Cuomo clearly enjoyed reliving his big gay marriage victory of two years ago – especially on the heels of a not-so-successful (despite his vehement claims to the contrary) end of session, in which he sustained losses on a number of key agenda items, including the Women’s Equality Act, and campaign finance and ethics reform.

But, as the Wall Street Journal’s Erica Orden reports this morning, Cuomo may have won for losing on these issues in the long-term, since he staked a claim on them and can now use that to his advantage in his first re-election campaign next year.

The coalition of women’s groups that formed to support Cuomo’s agenda this year plans to remain engaged, and is already planning its next move. A number of key stakeholders are scheduled to meet today in New York City for a strategy session, a source familiar with the get-together confirmed.

In the meantime, Cuomo is continuing to tout what he considers his biggest policy achievement last week: Getting the Legislature to pass Start-Up NY, a rebranded version of his economic development initiative Tax Free-NY.

Between that win and the Supreme Court’s rulings that gave him the ability to revisit an old success, Cuomo certainly has a lot to celebrate this week.

Edie Windsor On Quinn: ‘She’ll Be Great!’

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral campaign wasted no time in capitalizing on the Democratic candidate’s surprise endorsement yesterday from Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case that led to one of the historic same-sex marriage rulings by the US Supreme Court yesterday.

Quinn was reportedly caught off guard yesterday when Windsor announced her endorsement at a rally held in front of the Stonewall Inn to celebrate the DOMA decision.

But Quinn’s campaign said the video that appears below, which is being sent to supporters along with an email bearing a similar message, was recorded by Windsor about a week ago.

So it was the timing – not the substance – of the 84-year-old activist’s endorsement that took the speaker by surprise.

The DOMA decision has great personal significance for Quinn, who is aiming to be not only the first woman mayor of New York, but also the first openly gay person to hold that position.

Quinn lobbied hard on behalf of the same-sex marriage bill in Albany two years ago, and she married her wife, Kim Catullo, last May.

Here’s the text of Windsor’s video. The text of the email that accompanied it appears after the jump.

“I’m Edie Windsor, and I want to tell you about another battle that’s very important to me, and that’s getting Christine Quinn elected the next mayor of New York.”

“She’s open and generous, and she’s smart. She understands the problems of managing a big city like New York.”

“She comes of middle class background herself, and has true respect and compassion for the struggling middle class, and the struggling working class and the struggling not-working class today. And you don’t find that very often.”

“In a city like this where we have all of this financial stuff, it can happen in a minute that there isn’t an apartment that anybody can afford that has a normal job. That’s why the emphasis on middle class is so important.”

“I hope everyone, everyone listening to me will not only vote for Chris themselves, but in fact will spread the word, will educate, you know, everyone they care about.”

“She’ll be great.”

More >

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Part of DOMA

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning struck down Section Three of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act  — a decision that comes two years and two days after New York legalized same-sex marriage.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that DOMA “violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government,” Kennedy wrote. The majority opinion also criticizes DOMA as an intrusion on states’ traditional role defining marriage.”

In the 5-to-4 ruling, Kennedy joined the court’s liberal wing in striking down the law.

“DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition,” Kennedy wrote in the opinion.

The primary plantiff in the case is New York resident Edith Windsor, who argues she is owed a tax refund of $366,000, but the law denied her the benefits.

Broadly speaking, the same-sex marriages in New York and the 11 other states and District of Columbia will be recognized on the federal level, making them subject to the 1,000-plus regulations and benefits. The ruling does not change state laws that ban or do not address same-sex marriage.

12-307_g2bh by Nick Reisman

Cuomo Commemorates 2 Years After Same-Sex Marriage

It was two years ago around this time that the Capitol was waiting to hear whether Senate Republicans would allow a vote on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s same-sex marriage legalization bill.

They emerged with a brief statement: The bill would come to the floor for a vote, with ultimately four backing the measure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon commemorated the two-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in New York, which he credited for paving the way for other states to approve legalization measures.

“Two years ago today, New York State became a more just place, passing marriage equality for all couples and restoring our standing as a progressive leader in the nation. Under the Marriage Equality Act, we ensured that same-sex couples would no longer be denied the rights and benefits that they are entitled to. On that historic day, we affirmed the fundamental equality of all New Yorkers to marry the person they love, no matter their sexual orientation, under the law. And when you pass a law in New York, people notice. In the past two years, states across the nation have followed our lead and enacted marriage equality. As the fight for full equality nationwide moves forward, we will fight to ensure New York maintains its position as the leader for equal rights.”

President Obama cited the New York law as a reason for his own switch on same-sex marriage when he announced his support in 2012, which was made a plank of the Democratic Party that same election year.

With Diaz Sr. In DC Supporting DOMA, Diaz Jr. Backs Same-Sex Marriage

The announcement is not much of a surprise for anyone who has followed the dynamic between father and son, but the timing is still significant.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. today announced that he backs same-sex marriage rights as his father, state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., is in Washington to take part in protests against marriage rights for gay couples. The Supreme Court this week heard two cases that could decide marriage rights for gay couples — one challenging Prop 8 in California and, today, another challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.

Despite Diaz Sr.’s staunch opposition to same-sex marriage — he is a Pentecostal minister — Diaz Jr. has taken a far more conciliatory approach to the LGBT community. A transcript of a really good interview with Diaz Jr. on breaking with his father on the issue of gay rights can be found here.

In a statement this afternoon, Diaz Jr. notes that his top aide, Paul Del Duca, is gay, and he could not deny him the right to marry who he loves.

Here’s the full statement:

“After considerable deliberation and introspection, I support marriage equality.

“My decision, which comes after years of thought and reflection on the issue, is informed by the experiences I have had with close friends, family and loved ones.

“For example, my chief-of-staff, Paul Del Duca, has for decades worked to help the people of this City. He has helped people find housing and jobs, he has dedicated his professional life to assisting those in need. Why, then, should he and his partner Damion—whose wedding I stood witness to—be denied the same rights of any other loving and committed couple? Moreover, why should my niece, Erica Diaz, be denied the ability to get married when her time comes?

“When marriage equality was made legal in 2011, many opponents predicted that it would have negative consequences. That has certainly not been the case. It is my contention that our city and our state are better off than they were before marriage equality became the law. Not only has our city seen an incredible financial impact from marriage equality, the quality of life for myself, my family and my friends has not suffered one bit.

“Right now, the Supreme Court is preparing to decide on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. I strongly believe that this law should be struck down. The marriages of thousands of New Yorkers and other LGBT individuals across the United States should be afforded the same federal rights, benefits, and recognition as my own marriage.

“Individuals who love one another, regardless of their sexual orientation, should not be denied the benefits of marriage. It is time for the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.