Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties


Just in time for Pride Weekend, the New York state Senate voted last night to allow same-sex marriages in the Empire State, making it by far the largest and most important place in this country to do so. It was a momentous, stupendous absolutely tremendous moment for civil rights and equality in this country and living proof that on a long enough time line, justice usually prevails in this great country of ours. It is only a matter of time before gay wedding bells ring through the churchy green hills of Alabama…

According to the Village Voice, chants of “USA! USA!” erupted in the Senate gallery after the Marriage Equality Act passed by a vote of 33-39, with every single Democrat save for the Reverend Ruben Diaz, an unrepentant bigot who refused to condemn a minister who openly advocated the murder of homosexuals.

Four Republican Senators– Stephen Saland, James Alesi, Mark Grisanti and Roy McDonald– broke ranks with the rest of their party, which they knew was on the wrong side of history on this, the most important civil rights issue of our time. This is what Sen. McDonald said about his decision to vote for marriage equality:

“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it. I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.

I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”

The reaction in parts of New York was pure ecstasy. Wild celebrations broke out in the streets of Manhattan’s West Village– the place where the gay rights movement began with the Stonewall uprising 42 years ago– and elsewhere. Jubilant New Yorkers waved rainbow flags and popped bottles of champagne as they reveled in the sweet sensation of equality. “It’s great to no longer feel like a second-class citizen,” Tom Selty of Astoria, Queens told the New York Post. “I never thought this day would come,” Mary Russo, who had to go to Canada to marry her partner, told NBC. “There is something absolutely extraordinary about validation.”

The good news came just in time for today’s Gay Pride Parade.

“I’m very proud of New York and the statement it’s making to the nation today,” Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat and champion of marriage equality, declared in a post-vote speech on the Senate floor. After signing the bill into law, New York will soon become the sixth state, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, DC, to legalize same-sex marriage.

New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, hailed the historic vote, calling it a “historic triumph for equality and freedom.” “By welcoming all people – no matter where they are from, what faith or philosophy they follow, or whom they love – New York became the strongest, most dynamic city in the world. And today, we are even stronger than we were yesterday,” he said.

Opponents of equality, most notably from the reactionary world of religion, were crushed as they watched history inexorably shifting towards justice and equality. “The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled,” lamented Archbishop Timothy Dolan in a statement speaking for all New York’s Catholic bishops.

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