Marriage Equality is a victory for us all
By: Cahir O'Doherty | Published Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:37 PM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 10:24 PM
Last night, moments after the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo delivered marriage equality, my Facebook and Twitter feeds exploded.
Stoic friends, not given to public outbursts, admitted they were weeping. Outside of my window the Empire State Building was suddenly rainbow colored in celebration. It's been a long time since I've seen such widespread outpourings of sheer joy in New York City.
A series of tweets from Speaker Christine Quinn - named by The New York Observer this week as the number one most powerful gay person in New York City - made my night:
'I can't really describe what this feels like,' Quinn wrote, 'but it's one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life.'
Earlier she added: 'What this marriage equality vote does for me is important, but what this does for gay children is indescribable.'
She's right about that. A new generation of gay teenagers will now grow up in a world where their relationships don't automatically subject them to insult, violence, contempt and legal peril.
Just think for a minute what a remarkable change that is for them. They no longer need to live their lives anticipating the next outrage to their personhood or destiny. They can live free and equal in this remarkable city and state.
Some see this change as foundational, or as an unspecified ominous threat to their own rights. They were given ample opportunity to argue their case, and they lost on the merits.
It's foolish to battle against human love and expect to win - and that's what this squabble is about ultimately - and that's why marriage equality has always prevailed in the end. So we should savor this victory for what it tells us about the human heart and spirit.
Gay people are embedded in culture in a way that no other minority is: we're your friends, co-workers, nephews, sons and daughters. If you strip us of equality you're going to hear about it more intimately than most.
There's work ahead. DOMA is still the law of the land and it invalidates marriage equality at the federal level. Married gay couples will still not be permitted to file their federal taxes jointly. They will have no immigration rights whatsoever. The disparities are clear and they must be settled.
But in the end it's love, and not law books, that make a good marriage. Believe me I already know what a happy marriage looks like, I've been in one for fourteen years.
Now, finally, I can make it official.
(And to those of you still on the fence, take heart - if you're still not sure how you feel about gay marriage, might I suggest you make an effort to attend one? It's gay pride weekend in New York City, there'll be no shortage of opportunities to swing an invite).
New York has taught me many things, including there's nothing like proximity to make good neighbors of us all.