New York Does the Right Thing

Gay couples in New York and their straight friends poured into

Sheridan Square on Friday to hear the roll call from Albany for the New York State Senate vote on marriage equality. They gathered in front of the Stonewall Inn, the flashpoint in 1969 when gays rioted for justice for GLBT citizens.

The vote was 33-29, in the Republican controlled legislature, giving gay couples the right to marry in New York. It is not only a landmark victory for not only gay New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, led political proponent of the measure, gay-rights advocates, but all GLBT people. It is further proof that we will never go back to the closet, no matter what tactics antigay politicians use to speciously demonize gay America or separate us from Constitutional equity.

Uber-conservative groups have done everything to de-legitimize our lives, but it hasn’t worked in the marriage equality fight in New York and the victory there is so big, that it is a tipping point for all other states.

The arguments against legalization brought out all of the usual arias, that the mere fact of gay marriage erodes the institution of marriage. The fact that if you are straight you can get an Elvis-impersonator marriage and divorce in Vegas all in the same weekend didn’t seem to enter into it. (See Britney Spears). But, mostly religious groups and families that prefer their gay relatives to suffocate in the closet brought out those specious, though high selective passages from the Bible — condemnations about other matters dealing with eating shrimp, divorce and menstrual exile, for instance, have been since ignored.

Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), the 33rd vote, grew up Catholic stated

“I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

But, as much as there is reason to celebrate, there is still much work to do for GLBT equality. The religious and political reasons against same-sex marriage continue to be built on bigotry and perpetuated myths completely disconnected from social reality. And politically, it is a great divining line. The central argument put forth by antigay conservatives that allowing gay marriage would erode straight marriage, is pathetic, but politically effective. Outside of a minister on the down low, this argument is in fact so vaporous, that no evidence to prove its merit is ever produced. As millions of people experience every day, there are no negatives in someone living an open and out life, the negatives are all inventions of the morbidly homophobic.

In the week leading up to the vote, it seemed that it could have failed passage unless concessions were brokered to appease religious groups. Mark Segal, editor of the Philadelphia Gay News (who was Stonewall in 1969) notes in his op-ed this week “The last issue to resolve to pass gay marriage was how to protect the financial interest of religious organizations. New Yorkers have been debating this issue long enough that it has surpassed knowing the community to the point of just an assurance that it will not affect the dollars for the church.”

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan called gay marriage initiatives “Orwellian Social Engineering and launched a righteous crusade to warn Catholics, GOP brass sent communiqués to their brethren that there would be consequences in the next election if they voted for equality and NFL’s David Tyree gravely predicted that gay marriage would lead us down the road to “anarchy.” We’ll keep an eye on that David.

Meanwhile, last weekend, The New York Times ran a video profile of Julliard voice teachers Richard Adrian Dorr and John Mace who have been together since 1948. They told the Times “To be able to start a new phase of life, after 61 years of togetherness…is wonderful. We feel we have the right to be married in New York. A marriage is sanctified by what each partner brings to it.” Haven’t these gents waited long enough? About time they were able to get hitched, don’t you think? Bring flowers, good champagne and your dancing shoes.