Friday, May 15, 2009

We'll Have A Gay Old Time

Same Sex Marriage: The Time Has Come For NY To Say YES

No person should ever be denied their civil rights or the basic freedoms others can enjoy.
---Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith

The NYS Assembly passed what has become known as the "Gay Marriage" Bill -- technically, Assembly bill A. 7732 -- by a margin of 89 to 52.

No surprises. The measure was expected to easily pass the Assembly, and even garnered the votes of five courageous Republicans, who bucked the tired, old party line to move New York boldly into the 21st Century.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called this measure "a matter of equity and justice. New Yorkers should have the right to marry whom they chose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples."

Mr. Silver is absolutely right. Let the moans and groans of the homophobes subside. [No one is turning to salt.] The law would recognize civil unions, with all rights and privileges attendant thereto.

From life and death decisions, to the mundane, everyday benefits typically afforded to married couples -- and rarely given a second thought -- the act would give same sex couples equal rights and protections, as same are guaranteed by the Constitutions of both the United States and the State of New York. [As if we should really need legislation to tell us that.]

Some of those voting against the bill cited personal indignation. Others preached morality. [Hey, you're in the NYS Legislature. All morality has been permanently suspended.] And a few said their votes represented the will of their constituents. [Right. Like that ever made a difference, either to our representatives in Albany or their constituents.]

Truth is, there are only two reasons, in this day and age, to vote against a measure that provides for equal protection under the law for any person -- in this instance, a law that would recognize consensual relationships between two adults of the same sex: ignorance and cowardice.

For the bill's opponents, it is as if not to recognize same sex civil unions would simply make homosexuality go away.

No. To fail to recognize true and meaningful relationships, loving and giving relationships, simply makes our humanity go away.

This blogger is not a homosexual. Not an indictment. Just a fact.

A homosapien, yes, who believes that every member of the species, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation, deserves equal treatment and protection under the law.

Indeed, the measure has nothing to do with homosexuality, per se, or the State's endorsement thereof. It has everything to do, however, with simple human decency.

Don't like homosexuals? So don't marry one.

Frankly, we believe in live and let live, rather than in minding everyone else's business, and intervening, as if by some God-given right, when someone else's conduct or mindset does not conform or comport to your own.

Should gays be permitted to marry? Absolutely. After all, why should heterosexual couples suffer alone? Just kidding, dear...

Now the measure goes to the State Senate, where it faces stiff opposition (even among some Democrats), and an uncertain future.

Its not easy to give up old ways, or to admit that the times have changed. Still, one would hope that our State Senators, upon reflection and introspection, would do right by all New Yorkers, voting YES on the Marriage Equality Bill.

Of course, that would take a particular courage -- if not an appropriate set of balls -- the likes of which hasn't been seen up in Albany in a long, long time.
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The Community Alliance encourages readers to contact their State Senators, urging them to vote YES on the Marriage Equality Bill, S. 4401.
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Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Measure would allow same-sex partners to legally marry in New York

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell today announced the passage of a marriage equality bill that allows same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil marriages. The measure, a program bill introduced by Governor Paterson and sponsored by O'Donnell, grants same-sex couples the same legal recognition afforded to couples of the opposite sex.

In 2007, the Assembly passed a similar marriage equality bill, 85 to 61, with bipartisan support. Today's vote of 89 to 52 also gained approval from majority and minority members from throughout the state.

"This is a matter of equity and justice. New Yorkers should have the right to marry whom they chose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples," said Silver (D-Manhattan).

"The Assembly cast another vote today for equality, and sent a strong message that our state must no longer exclude citizens from basic rights and protections. Our constitution and our consciences demand action," said O'Donnell (D-Manhattan). "It is impossible to ignore the pleas of parents who want their children to be treated equally under the law and individuals who want nothing more than to protect their partners and families."

The bill (A.7732) would amend the Domestic Relations Law, to give same-sex couples the opportunity to legally marry in New York State and make all provisions of state law applicable to same-sex marriages. The measure specifically provides that no member of the clergy can be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.

When the Assembly last passed marriage equality in 2007, Massachusetts was the only state that allowed same-sex marriage. Today, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine permit same-sex marriages. While laws in Connecticut and Iowa were implemented by judicial decision, Vermont and Maine passed measures through their respective state legislatures. Both houses in New Hampshire have also passed a same-sex marriage bill, which is awaiting approval or veto by their governor.

California courts consented to marriage between same-sex partners for five months last year before the approval of a statewide referendum that instructs the state government to acknowledge only marriages between a man and a woman.

O'Donnell continued, "Many of my colleagues who voted yes are individuals of profound faith who were able to draw a distinction between civil and religious marriage. I commend every one of them for casting this courageous vote."

Silver noted the changed political landscape since the last Assembly vote, in 2007. Residents in urban, suburban and rural areas all over New York State contacted their Assemblymembers, urging them to approve the marriage equality legislation.

Governor Paterson issued a directive to state agencies last year to recognize all marriages performed outside the state, including same-sex marriages performed in Canada or the few states that can be legally solemnized. Some municipalities in New York State offer domestic partnership registries for the purposes of benefits, but civil unions are not offered under New York State law.

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