Schumer leads marriage rally at LGBT Center

Lawmakers and advocates huddle by the podium
Lawmakers and advocates huddle by the podium at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan.
Donna Aceto

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stood with several LGBTQ elected officials, advocates, and allies at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan on November 18 to call for the passage of a bipartisan bill protecting marriage equality in the United States.

The rally was held in between Senate votes on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would formally repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and establish protections for same-sex and interracial marriages as a precaution in case the Supreme Court eventually overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. While it would not require states to perform marriages, the bill is primarily intended to shield the rights of married couples. The bill also includes language outlining religious liberty and conscience provisions.

Democrats are pushing forward after generating sufficient bipartisan support to move the legislation during the lame duck session. Out lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin led the legislative push with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who helped convince 12 GOP lawmakers to join Democrats in voting for the bill. The Senate voted 62-37 vote on November 16 to invoke cloture, putting the bill one step closer to passage.

The Senate version of the bill contains an amendment and would need to be approved again by the House of Representatives, which previously passed a different version of the bill over the summer.

Schumer voiced concern about the threats to marriage posed by a conservative Supreme Court, and he particularly pointed to Justice Clarence Thomas’ opposition to marriage equality. The thought of a Supreme Court ruling overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, he said, is “a sad factor in mind.”

“Anyone who says the high court would never be as reckless as to overturn a decision that is protected the fundamental right of millions, all I have to say is wake up,” he said. “Look what they did in the Dobbs decision… Passing marriage equality in the Senate is all about making sure such a danger is never, never materialized.”

Schumer went on to explain that the bill is personal to him because his daughter and her wife are expecting a child.

“I want to make sure to do everything possible to make sure their lives are protected under federal law,” he said.

A long list of speakers delivered remarks throughout the well-attended event at the LGBT Community Center. The elected officials were joined by groups and organizations such as the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, GLAAD, Equality New York, The New Pride Agenda, and Destination Tomorrow. Judith Kasen-Windsor, the surviving spouse of marriage champion Edie Windsor, was also in attendance.

The out elected officials in attendance included Congressmember Ritchie Torres; New York City Councilmembers Lynn Schulman, Chi Ossé, Crystal Hudson, and Erik Bottcher; State Assemblymembers Daniel O’Donnell and Jessica González-Rojas; and State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also on hand, along with his successor, Adrienne Adams.

Schumer was accompanied by Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, who is the lead sponsor of the House version of the marriage bill.

A final vote on the bill could take place after Thanksgiving.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets attendees.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets attendees.Donna Aceto
Glennda Testone speaking
Glennda Testone, the executive director of the LGBT Center, speaks alongside Michael Sabatino, Cathy Marino-Thomas, and Judith Kasen-Windsor.Donna Aceto
Congressmember Jerrold Nadler speaks in front of the Trans Flag.Donna Aceto
Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell
Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell was a leader in the fight for marriage equality in New York State.Donna Aceto
Congressmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
Congressmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.Donna Aceto
State Senator Brad Hoylman.
State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan.Donna Aceto
Jessica González-Rojas
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas of Queens.Donna Aceto