Cuomo Arrives for Cocktail Hour, Pledges to Sign Marriage Equality

After weeks of uncertainty about whether Andrew Cuomo would or would not attend the Empire State Pride Agenda’s fall dinner, the attorney general showed up to offer his remarks at a pre-dinner reception.

“I hope you’ve heard that I’m running for governor,” Cuomo told a crowded reception room at the Sheraton in Midtown, after touting his record on gay issues in the Clinton administration and as attorney general. “Have you heard that? Are you sure you’ve heard that?”

Cuomo called marriage equality “the civil rights issue of our time.”

“My friends, let me be clear. I don’t want to be the governor who just lobbies for marriage, I don’t want to be the governor who just fights for marriage quality, I want to be the governor who signs the law that makes equality a reality in the state of New York. And we’re going to get that done together,” he said.

The visit comes up as Cuomo has tried to shore up his Democratic base in recent weeks–visiting with Latino leaders, black churchgoers, and pro-choice women–and he gave what has become a go-to stump speech focused on his opponent, Carl Paladino, who he accuses of exploiting fear and anger in an effort to divide the state.

After his remarks, Cuomo chatted with attorney general candidate Eric Schneiderman for a few minutes, then gave a hearty hug to Senate President Malcolm Smith, before greeting ESPA supporters in the crowd, and taking a few questions from the press.

“I have a private, long-term scheduled event that I have to make tonight,” he said of his decision to address the reception instead of the dinner. “They were very kind to let me come and make comments at the cocktail party to accommodate that. Because I very much wanted to be here and I wanted to speak to these issues, so I’m glad we worked it out.”

Cuomo took four questions then left for his private engagement.

His running mate, Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, accompanied him to the event and stayed until the end of the dinner, auction and all. Cuomo Arrives for Cocktail Hour, Pledges to Sign Marriage Equality