No longer will New York's gay citizens be shunted aside as second class citizens. That said, this bill will not correct the deficiencies on a federal level, but this is a start.
New York is now the largest state with the largest population to pass such legislature without being forced to do so by its courts. Brave leaders took a stand tonight.
With New York, long considered far more conservative than many other states, passed the marriage equality amendment on Friday after much hand-wringing and debate during the course of this past week. Republican leaders agreed to let the bill go to a vote only after guarantees were written into the legislation that would protect religious institutions from lawsuit.
Fine. So be it. Gay activists have long said they have little problem with religious institutions being permitted to practice their faith. This was never a matter of us vs. them. It has long been an argument on fairness, equality and rights guaranteed by our nation's Constitution. It is sad that gay people even have to fight this battle, but the realities have also made this a necessity.
Last night, President Obama was in New York state hosting a fundraiser. The President's spokespersons says the President still favors this issue be resolved state-by-state. This is unacceptable! Since when should citizens ever have the right to sit in judgment of their fellow citizens.. and to decide what rights are to be meted out--and to whom.
President Obama is on record saying gay and lesbian couples should be afforded the same (and equal) rights that heterosexual couples receive by saying the two simple words that conclude a wedding ceremony. "I do." By that very argument, "I do" should be a part of the President's re-election mantra.
Personally, I think the President has a lot of balls to go before gay and lesbian donors and tell them to their face "I support you, but only so far.... and while we're at it, can you give me your money?" Mr. President, you have my marginal support, but unless you are willing to go all the way, my support will remain in question.
Earlier this year, the President instructed the Justice Department to stop enforcing the legislation Defense of Marriage Act--DOMA, to most of us. Not enforcing the law is a wimpy way, passive-aggressive even, in saying you believe the law is unconstitutional. Non enforcement is no answer. The law must be abolished to ensure equality in our 50 states. Non-enforcement says nothing to the states other than "business as usual."
History is awaiting. Six states have said enough is enough. Sadly, my own state leaders (Indiana) are working to amend our state constitution saying "marriage is between a man and a woman." If successful, yet another state (currently 40 states expressly forbid same sex marriage) will step into the lane saying "we condone, nay, demand that discrimination be the land."
Just last week, California's recent constitutional battle took on a new urgency when local courts refused to vacate an earlier decision stating Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because the overseeing judge, Judge Walker is gay. Californians now await further rulings later this year to see if the nation's most populated state will be permitted to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.
C'mon Mr. President. You have said your opinions about gay marriage "are evolving." To that, I say, "Evolve already!" Put your beliefs into practice... You have said you believe DOMA is unconstitutional. You cannot say one thing and yet be so spineless to not more aggressively put this law where it belongs--in the grave.
In other words, put forth legislation that goes beyond mere words, but in deeds. Leaders who permit such discrimination to continue will find themselves on the wrong side of history. I can honestly say, who wants to be remembered in our nation's history textbooks that way?
Clearly, public sentiment is slowly changing. Just two years ago, an overwhelming majority believed gay marriage should be forbidden, but many recent polls now give the affirmative camp a slight majority. It goes without saying much work remains to be done, and hearts to be won before this issue will be resolved.
Last word: Congratulations, New York leaders. Your brave stance tonight will not be forgotten!
Note: Gov. Cuomo signed the bill shortly before midnight tonight, cementing the legislation, making it the law in the Empire State.