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Bloomberg Declares Support For Gay Marriage As His Lawyers Prepare To Fight Pro-Gay Ruling

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Bloomberg Declares Support For Gay Marriage As His Lawyers Prepare To Fight Pro-Gay Ruling

by Doug Windsor, 365Gay.com New York Bureau

May 29, 2006 - 11:00 am ET

(New York City) On Wednesday attorneys for New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will ask the state's highest court to uphold an appeals court ruling that overturned a Manhattan judge's decision that said denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. But on Sunday Bloomberg said he supports same-sex marriage.

For many the juxtaposition of the two positions seems odd - seldom does someone in a lawsuit suggest they want to lose. But it is indicative of the tightrope the mayor is walking on the issue.

Bloomberg has consistently told the LGBT community that he supports same-sex marriage and that he is only fighting the Manhattan ruling because he fears that with judges in other parts of the state ruling for continuing the ban on gay marriage there could be confusion over where marriages would be legal and where they would remain banned.

In his weekly radio address on Sunday Bloomberg marked this week's beginning of LGBT Pride month in New York. He said that if the court rules that the city can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples gay and lesbian partners could immediately head to City Hall.

If the court rules the other way, Bloomberg said he will work with the state Legislature to make gay marriage legal.

In February 2005 New York City judge Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the New York State Constitution guarantees basic freedoms to lesbian and gay people, and that those rights are violated when same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.

The case had been brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of 5 gay and lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses.

Ling-Cohan's ruling said the state Constitution requires same-sex couples to have equal access to marriage, and that the couples represented by Lambda Legal must be given marriage licenses.

Attorneys for Mayor Bloomberg appealed and in December Ling-Cohan's ruling was overturned in a 4 - 1 decision. Lambda then appealed to the state's highest court - the Court of Appeals.

On Wednesday Lambda will argue that Ling-Cohan's original verdict should be upheld.

"We appreciate that the mayor agrees with what we've been saying all along," Lambda Legal attorney Susan Sommer told 365Gay.com.

"We hope that the court of appeals will agree that the Constitution is violated by withholding full marriage rights," added Sommer who will argue the case for same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Lambda's written brief to the high court states, in part, that, "This appeal is about far more than abstract legal principles. At heart, it concerns real New York families who share the same love and day-to-day journey together through life that binds married couples."

"I believe New Yorkers should have the right to marry whomever they choose, regardless of sexual orientation," Bloomberg said in his radio message.

"If they [the Court of Appeals] rule that same-sex marriages are legal, then we'll perform them," he added.

Bloomberg, a Republican, also voiced his opposition to a proposed amendment to to the US Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

He said in his radio address that he is "firmly opposed" to any constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

"I do not believe that government should be in the business of telling people who they can and can't marry," he said.

The Senate is expected take up the amendment next week.

©365Gay.com 2006

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