Obama rallies gays as NY lawmakers debate marriage


US President Barack Obama stopped short of endorsing the New York state senate’s bid to pass a gay marriage law during a sympathetic speech at a gay and lesbian fundraiser in New York. New York’s state’s 62 senators had been expected to vote on the bill late Thursday as Obama addressed the gala but postponed the vote to Friday at 10:00 am (1400 GMT). The bill has already been approved by the state assembly.
“I understand there’s a little debate going on here in New York about whether to join five other states and DC (the District of Columbia) in allowing civil marriage for gay couples,” Obama told the crowd. “New York is doing exactly what democracies are supposed to do. There’s a debate; there’s deliberation about what it means here in New York to treat people fairly in the eyes of the law,” he said. He did not, however, offer his personal backing to the legislation.
The bill needs 32 senate votes to pass, and 31 senators have already expressed their support for legalizing gay marriage, although the issue has been repeatedly rejected by the New York senate in recent years. The 600 mostly male attendees at the fundraiser, held at New York’s Sheraton Hotel and attended by members of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, paid $1,250 to $2,500 (1,750 euros) to hear Obama.