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City, State Lawmakers: LGBT Equality Needs To Be Reality Across America

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York lawmakers have met with gay rights activists to discuss efforts to push for federal Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender legislation.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were among the politicians who met with community leaders at Gay Men's Health Crisis headquarters, 446 W. 33rd St., Sunday afternoon to talk about an LGBT equality measure.

1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten reports


The meeting came just days after a federal appeals court in Manhattan struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling on DOMA Thursday. The decision upholds a lower court judge who ruled that the 1996 law that defines marriage as involving a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

The three-judge panel said the law violates equal protection. A federal appeals court in Boston earlier this year also found it unconstitutional.

As 1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten reported, Gillibrand said if the U.S. Supreme Court ends up striking down DOMA – as she hopes it will – more battles remain for the LGBT community.

"We want to make sure no one is discriminated against in the workplace," she said. "How common sense is that, that you can't be fired because you're gay? That's unacceptable in America."

She said anti-bullying legislation is also needed to protect gay students and those perceived to be gay.

Speaker Quinn said with two possible Supreme Court appointments coming up, the presidential election becomes very important to the LGBT community.

"Who those people are is incredibly important on a number of different issues – marriage equality, a woman's right to choose, and many other issues that are really important to all of us in New York," Quinn said.

Quinn said couples with legal rights in one state should see them extended to all.

Rep. Nadler authored the Respect for Marriage Act, which was introduced in the House in March 2011, which sought to amend DOMA to allow gay marriage to be recognized as marriage.

Sen Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Hilldibrand at the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center. Credit 1010 WINS Reporter Gary Baumgarten

That measure had 157 co-sponsors in the House. Sen. Gillibrand introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate with 32 co-sponsors. But the measure has stalled in both houses of Congress.

Nadler said some kind of legislation must pass.

"You get married in New York, you live in New York, the federal government recognizes your marriage," Nadler said. "You move to Oklahoma – suddenly, as far as the federal government is concerned, you're not married anymore."

In 2011, New York became the sixth state in the union to legalize gay marriage.

Back in July, officials estimated gay marriage had an impact of $259 million in New York City alone in the year since it passed. More than 8,000 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in New York City.

Among the recipients was Speaker Quinn, who married her longtime partner this past summer.

Gay marriage is also legal in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia.

Do you see the U.S. Supreme Court striking down DOMA in the near future? Please share your comments below...

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