Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011: A Prouder Pride

Seven years ago, I wrote this editorial in my college newspaper as George W. Bush was proposing an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would outlaw marriage equality across the country. A week later, somebody responded to my editorial saying that "if they let a man marry another man, what's next is that somebody will want to marry their tractor." Dead serious. 

Now, many years later, same-sex couples have the same right to get married in New York state as opposite-sex couples. Those of us who have fought tirelessly for this issue in New York for over a decade almost never thought this day would come. But finally, it's here. 

And it' s a huge reason why we all should be even prouder this pride. The number of people living in this country in a state that recognizes marriage equality has just doubled. I'm no longer a New Yorker, but I'm proud that I went to college in a state that now treats its gay and lesbian citizens with equality and fairness. I'm proud that my parents live in New York state. And I'm proud to be an American. Events like last night show that there are good people in politics on both sides of the aisle. And when we fight hard enough and long enough for what we believe in and what we know is right, we will prevail. 

I hope we all take some time to thank the republican senators who put what's right for New Yorkers ahead of what's right for them getting re-elected. I hope we thank the many organizations who have participated in making this happen over the past decade - Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and NGLTF, just to name a few. 

So let's party like there's no tomorrow this weekend, but let's not forget that there's still much work to be done. As long as there's places in this country where it's illegal for you to obtain a government-issued marriage license because you're gay, there is blatant discrimination embedded into our laws. Remember, these pastors and churches who have been such vocal opponents DO NOT OWN CIVIL MARRIAGE. Their arrogance never ceases to amaze me. They own RELIGIOUS marriage as they define it within their own religion, but they don't have the right to impose their religious views onto the civil rights of us all. When it comes to religious marriage, churches have always been able to marry and deny marriage to whoever they want, and they always will be able to do that. What the government is involved with is CIVIL MARRIAGE, which has nothing to do with a church. It's simply the right to access a marriage license issued by the government. So don't be fooled by the dynamic that this is an issue of gays vs. the church, because that is not at all a fair portrayal, and it's especially not fair to the many churches, religions, and people of faith who support marriage equality. 

I hope the actions of the New York lawmakers will inspire each of us be a little braver, a little stronger,  and a little more vocal as we move forward. Let people know you're here and that you're gay, not just on gay pride weekend, but whenever it really counts - especially at the voting booth. As strong as our spirit may be this weekend, we need our actions to match that strength when we determine who we put in power and who makes the rules. That's one right they can never take away. 

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