By Larry Mcshane
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
New York Gov. Paterson introduced legislation Thursday to legalize gay marriage in New York state - to raucous applause from lawmakers and advocates.
"The time has come to act," said Paterson, joined in his Manhattan office by Mayor Bloomberg. "The time has come to bring marriage equality to the state of New York."
Paterson's move came one day after New York's new archbishop, Timothy Dolan, made clear he would vigorously fight same-sex marriage legislation.
The governor noted his bill was the same one introduced in 2007, when it passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly before dying in the Senate.
The audience cheered and whooped wildly after Paterson announced his bill.
"It's time for this state to take the next step and insure the rights of same-sex couples," Bloomberg said.
Paterson, flanked by City Council head Christine Quinn, state Sen. Tom Duane and other officials, compared the need for same-sex marriage to the battle to abolish slavery.
"I understand the trepidation and anxiety people are feeling right now," Paterson said. "Rights should not be stifled by fears. What we should understand is silence should not be a response to injustice."
Although Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith backs the legislation, he doubts if there are sufficient votes to pass the measure.
Paterson has said New York's gay and lesbian couples are denied up to 1,350 civil protections - including health care and pension rights - because they cannot marry.