A milestone for civil rights: gay marriage is now legal in New York! You can now claim to attend school in a “progressive” state.
Last Friday night around 10 pm, news started leaking out: two Republican state Senators had just announced they would support the gay marriage bill in the NY State Senate. A few minutes after this announcement, the bill was brought to the floor of the Senate, where it was approved 33-29, ending a long behind-the-scenes political process. Almost immediately, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who turned passage of a gay marriage bill into a personal crusade, signed the bill into law.
A touching tale: during a recess, Senator Huntley, a Democrat who had just come out in support in the bill, hugged Daniel O’Donnell, an openly gay Assemblyman who sponsored the legislation. According to the New York Times front page story, O’Donnell teared up and announced, holding his partner’s hand, “we’re going to invite you to our wedding.”
Celebrations erupted throughout the city—especially outside Stonewall, where the gay rights movement started almost 42 years ago—and the Empire State Building lit up with rainbow lights. Proposals ensued! And the final passage of the bill came conveniently right before New York City Pride Weekend.
New York is the largest state to allow gay marriage, and over 10% of Americans can now legally marry whomever they want. More states are likely to follow, as a recent poll shows that a majority of Americans support gay marriage. This is sure to put pressure on President Obama, who came to the city on Thursday and told a crowd of gay-rights supporters that he supported equality for all, but he still failed to endorse wholeheartedly same-sex marriage. (“In civil rights terms, it is 1965,” writes Remnick in the New Yorker, “but Obama is still acting like F.D.R. And that is no credit to a worthy and ambitious presidency). Even so, Obama has arguably been more sympathetic to gay rights than any other American president. But is history still the best “yardstick”?
Update, 6/29 6:30 pm: One commenter points out that some states have already passed constitutional amendments prohibiting gays from marrying. Slate has an excellent piece on how the voters of 2004 are preventing the voters of 2011 from allowing marriage equality. We’re in the midst of a demographic and cultural transition!
Tags: lgbtq, linkalicious, news that's a tad belated but no less monumental, politics