NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Using the power of his deep pockets, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday demanded that state lawmakers vote to legalize same-sex marriage this year.
"It's just none of the government's business who you love," Bloomberg told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.
In a speech he felt was so important that he used Teleprompters, Bloomberg demanded that the State Legislature end years of foot dragging and pass a same-sex marriage bill -- now.
"The question for every New York State lawmaker is do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights, or an obstructionist?" the mayor said.
WCBS 880's Rich Lamb: The Mayor Used Soaring Language
And in wading into the tangled web of Albany politics, the mayor is putting his money where his mouth is. He raised $250,000 at a fundraiser this week, has donated undisclosed amounts of his own cash and, aides said, is privately telling lawmakers that if they don't vote for the marriage equality bill he will use his vast fortune to back their challengers.
"We deserve a vote not next year, or after the 2012 elections, but in this legislative session," Bloomberg said.
1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reports: Bloomberg Challenges Albany To Do The Right Thing
Activists say they will not hesitate to raise big bucks to run challengers to those who oppose gay marriage.
"That has to be part of their decision making process right now. Not only is it the right thing to do but it's also the politically smart thing to do," said Ross Levi of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Although the issue has the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it is tightly contested. Senate Republicans, who hold the key to the effort, won't say whether there will even be a vote this year.
Senator Ruben Diaz, a Democrat, Pentecostal minister and vocal opponent, said there can be no such thing as marriage equality.
"Mother Nature tells you there cannot be equality because a marriage between a man and a woman have the ability to produce to procreate. A marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman doesn't have that," Sen. Diaz said.
Diaz said that instead of trying to strong arm lawmakers, Mayor Bloomberg should spend his political capital and his own capital on a statewide referendum that would allow all New Yorkers to have a say on gay marriage.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said a decision on whether to hold a public vote on the issue won't be made for a several weeks.
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