ALBANY — Bill Clinton, who as president signed legislation barring federal recognition of same-sex unions but has in recent years become a supporter of gay marriage, on Thursday called on New York state lawmakers to pass a measure allowing gay unions.
“For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free,” said Mr. Clinton, a resident of Westchester County. “In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.”
Mr. Clinton’s statement was released by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, as part of a months-long campaign highlighting support for same-sex marriage by well-known New Yorkers. The campaign has released video endorsements of the legislation by the actress Julianne Moore; Bill Bratton, the former New York police commissioner; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; and the musician Russell Simmons, among others.
Mr. Clinton’s message came as advocates wrestle with how to proceed on same-sex marriage legislation in Albany. A wave of Democratic defeats in last year’s elections shrank supporters’ margin in the State Assembly, which has approved the measure in past years, while a majority of the State Senate, including all of the chamber’s 32 Republican senators, appear to remain opposed.
Supporters and opponents alike have begun major campaigns of phone calls, television and radio ads, and intensive lobbying in the Capitol. On Monday, hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage are expected to gather in Albany for a rally and to speak with state lawmakers and other officials.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a supporter of the legislation, this week announced that he would travel the state in coming days to rally support for same-sex marriage along with other priorities, like a cap on property taxes and a bill to tighten ethics laws for state officials.