ALBANY, N.Y. - (AP) - New York lawmakers rejected a bill Wednesdaythat would have made their state the sixth to allow gay marriage,disheartening advocates already stung by a similar decision byMaine voters just last month.
The New York measure failed by a wider-than-expected margin,falling 12 votes short in a 24-38 decision by the state Senate. TheAssembly had earlier approved the bill, and Gov. David Paterson,perhaps the bill's strongest advocate, had pledged to sign it.
New York also doesn't allow civil unions, but has several laws,executive orders and court decisions that grant many of the rightsto gays long enjoyed by married couples.
The vote comes after months of delays and arm twisting oflawmakers sympathetic to the bill but representing conservativedistricts. It also follows a referendum in Maine that struck down agay marriage law before it took effect.
Immediately after the vote, gay rights advocates chanted:"Equal rights now!" Many said they weren't surprised by thedecision. Most, including Paterson, said they at least wanted afloor debate and vote.
Senate sponsor Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat and theLegislature's first openly gay member, vowed not to give up hislife's goal.
"I'm like a dog with a bone," said Duane in his closingremarks on the floor, when defeat was becoming clear. "I wouldn'tlet go of anyone ... Because I don't give up. I don't know howto!"
Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts andVermont. A New Hampshire law takes effect Jan. 1.
"It's certainly disappointing," said Richard Socarides, a55-year-old Manhattan lawyer and resident and former President BillClinton's senior adviser on gay rights issues. "I'm surprised thatit was not closer. We'll have to take a hard look at what wentwrong."
Sen. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, challenged lawmakers to set asidetheir personal religious beliefs. He asked them to remember thatonce even slavery was legal.
"When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out," Adamssaid.
"That's the wrong statement," said gay marriage opponent Sen.Ruben Diaz, a conservative minister from the Bronx. "You shouldcarry your Bible all the time."
Diaz was the only opponent among the 38 to speak. Eighteensenators gave impassioned speeches, often about family members whosurvived the Holocaust and discrimination and would want gays to beequal under law.