Daniel J. O'Donnell

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Daniel O'Donnell
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 69th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Preceded byEdward C. Sullivan
Personal details
Born (1960-11-17) November 17, 1960 (age 58)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)John Banta
RelativesRosie O'Donnell (sister)
EducationCatholic University
George Washington University (BA)
City University of New York, Queens (JD)
WebsiteOfficial website

Daniel J. O'Donnell (born November 17, 1960) is a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly, representing the 69th district in Manhattan, made up of the neighborhoods of Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and portions of the Upper West Side and West Harlem. He is older brother to comedian Rosie O'Donnell.

In 2008 he was considered by New York Governor David Paterson to fill the Senate vacancy created by the appointment of Hillary Clinton as President Obama's Secretary of State.[1] Paterson ultimately appointed upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the seat.[2]

O'Donnell was the legislative sponsor of the Marriage Equality Act during its successful passage and signature into law on June 24, 2011.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Flushing, Queens, O'Donnell is one of five siblings that includes American entertainer Rosie O'Donnell. Raised in Commack, New York on Long Island, he attended The Catholic University of America before transferring to George Washington University for his B.A. and received a J.D. degree from CUNY School of Law at Queens College.


He first ran for the legislature in 1998, making an unsuccessful bid for the New York State Senate in the 30th district, losing the Democratic primary to Eric Schneiderman. When Assemblyman Edward C. Sullivan announced his retirement in 2002, O'Donnell was one of eight Democrats who entered the race to succeed him. In the crowded primary election held on September 10, 2002, O'Donnell won 34 percent of the vote, twice as much as his nearest competitor. In the general election that followed, he prevailed with 82 percent of the vote.[4]

O'Donnell was the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly and currently serves as one of six LGBT members of the New York Legislature, alongside Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Micah Kellner, Matthew Titone and Harry Bronson, as well as Senator Brad Hoylman.[5][6] His campaigns have frequently won the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

He ran uncontested in the 2008 and 2010 general elections.[7][8][9] He was opposed in the September 13, 2016 Democratic Primary by Steven M. Appel, but won over 73% of the vote.[10]


As of 2017, O'Donnell serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Procedure. Previously, O'Donnell served as Chair of the Assembly Committee Corrections, Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance, as well as Chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Procedure of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. He also serves on a number of full committees, namely:

  • Committee on Codes
  • Committee on Education
  • Committee on Environmental Conservation
  • Committee on Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force[11]


On June 19, 2007 O'Donnell ushered the Marriage Equality Act, a bill that would have legalized gay marriage in New York State, to passage by a vote of 85–61. Although the bill passed the Assembly and had the support of then-Governor Eliot Spitzer, the Republican-controlled State Senate did not take up the measure. O'Donnell once again led the fight for a same-sex marriage bill in 2009,[12] shepherding it to passage twice more, by a vote of 89–52 in May,[13] and by a vote of 88–51 in December. O'Donnell introduced the Marriage Equality bill in the Assembly for the 2011-2012 legislative session on May 10, 2011. The Marriage Equality Act was passed by the NYS Assembly on June 15, 2011, and passed the NYS Senate and was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo slightly before midnight on Friday, June 24, 2011.[14]

O'Donnell was also the prime sponsor of the Dignity for All Students Act, New York's anti-bullying law.[15] The law was signed into law by Governor Paterson on September 8, 2010, and was one of the first laws in New York history to explicitly include protections based on gender identity and expression.[16]

O'Donnell was an outspoken opponent of the legalization of mixed martial arts in New York State, at one point likening the grappling of the two combatants to "gay porn, only with a different ending."[17]

Public Advocate race[edit]

In 2019, he sought the New York City Public Advocate seat being vacated by Letitia James, who had been elected for New York State Attorney General. In what The Villager described as "one of the most jam-packed elections in recent memory," he lost to Jumaane Williams at 2.9 percent to the latter's 33 percent.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, O'Donnell was featured in Out Magazine's "Out 100," the magazine's list of the year's 100 most inspiring individuals.[19]

On January 29, 2012, O'Donnell married his partner of 31 years, John Banta. The ceremony and reception were attended by over 400 people including New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, many of his colleagues from the Assembly and State Senate, family, and friends. The couple were married by Judith Kaye, the former chief justice of the state Court of Appeals, New York's top court.

He has been interviewed in periodicals for the "Bear" community.[20]


  1. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (December 30, 2008). "Interviewing for the Job of U.S. Senator". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Hakim, Danny; Confessore, Nicholas (January 23, 2009). "Paterson Picks Gillibrand for Senate Seat". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Assembly Bill A08354". New York State Assembly. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  4. ^ "Election results". Board of Elections in the City of New York. 2002.
  5. ^ Shapiro, Julie (2012-06-11). "New York Elections 2012" (–). Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  6. ^ "Brad Hoylman Wins Handily in Senate Primary" (–). Gay City News. 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  7. ^ "Election Results 2008: New York State Legislature". The New York Times. 2008.
  8. ^ "Election Results 2010: New York State Legislature". The New York Times. 2010.
  9. ^ "Assembly Election Returns: November 2, 2010" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-18.
  10. ^ http://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/new-york-state-primary-election-results-polls-open-manhattan
  11. ^ http://nyassembly.gov/mem/Daniel-J-O%27Donnell/comm/
  12. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (May 12, 2009). "Assemblyman Makes Gay Marriage Bill Personal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  13. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (May 13, 2009). "N.Y. Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
  14. ^ Blain, Glenn (June 24, 2011, edited June 25, 2011). "Gay marriage legal in New York State after Senate passes historic bill 33-29". The New York Daily News. Retrieved 2011-06-27. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ Raferty, Isolde (June 23, 2010). "Antibullying Bill Goes to the Governor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  16. ^ Schindler, Paul (October 6, 2010). "Paterson Signs Anti-bullying Law". Gay City News. Retrieved 2012-01-24.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Assemblyman compares MMA to 'gay porn' during hearing". USA Today. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  18. ^ Anderson, Lincoln, "Oh, maane! Williams crushes advocate race," The Villager, Feb 28, 2019
  19. ^ "17th Annual Out100". Out Magazine. November 11, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  20. ^ Michael Goldberg, "Danny O'Donell: Attorney, Assemblyman ... Bear!" A Bear's Life Autumn 2005, Cover, 18-19.

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Edward C. Sullivan
New York State Assembly, 69th District