Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Rosie Mendez led a press conference today featuring Latino elected officials and community organizations standing in support of marriage equality in the State of New York. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and many other Latino elected officials, along with the Hispanic Federation, Make the Road New York, UPROSE, El Puente, Alianza Dominicana and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Also attending the press conference was Reverend Fabian Arias of Zion Lutheran Church in El Barrio/East Harlem, who offered his support for marriage equality.
This coalition of Latino leaders called upon the State Legislature and the Governor to pass marriage equality legislation immediately. A recent poll found that a majority of Latinos in New York State supports marriage equality.
Look out for video and additional photos from today’s press conference tomorrow!
Joint statement on marriage equality by Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Rosie Mendez, Congresswoman Nydia Veláquez, State Senators Gustavo Rivera, Martin Malavé Dilan, Adriano Espaillat, José Peralta and José M. Serrano, Assembly Members Carmen Arroyo, Guillermo Linares, Felix Ortiz, José Rivera, Peter Rivera and Robert J. Rodriguez, and Council Members Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Julissa Ferreras, Annabel Palma, Diana Reyna, Joel Rivera and Ydanis Rodriguez:
“We raise our voices as Latino/a elected leaders in strong support of marriage equality in the State of New York. It is unacceptable that our state’s same-sex couples are being denied a myriad of rights and benefits that come from having a relationship recognized by the state as a marriage. A bill legalizing same-sex marriage is long overdue, and we stand united and ready to fight for its passage in the current legislative session.
“Some religious and political leaders in our communities are currently engaging in efforts to mobilize Latinos against marriage equality and to define the debate in terms of their own religious convictions. Their cries of intolerance have been heard loud and clear, but cannot silence those of us who stand strongly on the side of justice and fairness for all New Yorkers, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“The right to marry is a fundamental civil right that should not be denied to any two adults who choose to share a life together in our state. As Latino elected leaders representing communities that continue to experience a range of injustices, we are especially conscious of our responsibility to ensure that all members of our society have the same rights and protections under the law. We believe that anything short of marriage equality relegates our LGBT brothers and sisters to being second-class citizens.
“We understand the important role that religion plays in the lives of our constituents and our communities. However, this is a debate that is civil in nature. The legislation to make marriage equality a reality in our state seeks to promote acceptance and equitable treatment of the LGBT community under our state’s laws, and does not dictate to our communities and religious institutions what beliefs and practices they adopt.
“Like in all communities, the Latino community is not a monolithic block that agrees on every issue, including the issue of marriage equality. It is for that reason that we come together as Latino/a elected officials to voice our support for marriage equality. We could no longer allow our voices and the voices of a majority of Latinos who according to polling do favor marriage equality, to be drowned out by those who are so vocally opposed to granting this basic civil right.”