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Albany reacts to President's support of same sex marriage

Governor Cuomo, who won national praise and attention for championing the passage of same sex marriage in New York, calls President Obama’s support of gay marriage a “major advancement for equal rights in this country.”

Cuomo says he “applauds the President’s courage” and believes that Mr. Obama’s support will “boost” efforts to advance marriage equality in many state where it is to legal, or where efforts are underway to ban gay marriage.

And Cuomo believes it will help change minds, saying people will think “if he can revisit an issue, than so can I”.

The governor says it’s important that the President made clear that he considers gay marriage a civil issue, not a religious matter, something that was delineated in the New York law.

“It’s not a religious debate, you do what you want in your church or your temple,” said Cuomo.

“I’m not telling you what you should do in your church or your temple.”

Cuomo met with President Obama briefly before the President’s appearance at Albany’s nano science center on Tuesday, but he says the subject of legalizing same sex marriage did not come up.

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson also praises the President’s statements.

In an interview with public televisions’ New York Now, and public radio, Senator Sampson says he “understands” how the President’s views “evolved” because he says he went through the same transformation, partly after repeated talks with the Senate’s only openly gay members, Senator Tom Duane.

“Initially I wasn’t in support of it,”said Sampson.

“But my thought process evolved also.”

The Democrats provided the largest number of votes for the same sex marriage bill to pass in 2011, though Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who does not personally back gay marriage, agreed to put the bill on the floor for a vote.

The lone Senate Democrat to vote against the bill, self-professed conservative Democrat Ruben Diaz, calls gay marriage the “Achilles heel” in New York State politics since it became law.

In a statement, Diaz says since the vote to legalize same sex marriage, Republicans have won special elections for legislative races, even in Democratic dominated districts.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.