Democratic Candidate for Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to make marriage equality in New York "a reality" Thursday night while addressing members of one of the state's most prominent gay rights groups. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
If he wanted to rally the gay community behind his candidacy for governor, there could have been no better gift for Andrew Cuomo than Carl Paladino's controversial remarks last weekend when he said he doesn't want children "brainwashed" into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid option.
"Frankly, I don't care what Carl Paladino thinks of me as a gay man," said Ross Levi of the Empire State Pride Agenda. "We have heard far worse from people with far more power and far more credibility. We have fought them and we have won against them too."
Cuomo appears to be capitalizing on the controversy. At Thursday's annual fall gala for the Empire State Pride Agenda -- New York's most prominent gay rights group -- Cuomo was invited to address a pre-dinner reception, and promised to pursue what he called the civil rights issue of our time.
"I don't want to be the governor that just lobbies for marriage equality. I don't wanna be the governor who just fights for marriage equality. I wanna be the governor who signs the law that makes equality a reality," Cuomo said.
Cuomo got a warm reception, as did other elected officials who have advocated for gay rights, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who on Thursday, jointly announced a new public service ad campaign promoting love and acceptance in the wake of recent anti-gay bias crimes.
"These incidents are completely unacceptable in a city built on the principles of diversity and tolerance and we will not stand for them," Bloomberg said.
Both of New York's senators also addressed the crowd, and promised to work toward repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, even as it's being challenged in court.
"This great country cannot afford -- either strategically or morally -- to keep this outdated policy for another day," said Senator Chuck Schumer.
The Empire State Pride Agenda has not yet formally endorsed Cuomo, but it's expected that announcement could come any day now.