Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage Equality in New York

Many of my neighbors and homies are celebrating tonight because New York State finally passed  Marriage Equality.  I'm pretty happy too.  Some queer people aren't psyched about marriage equality because it could be seen as a distraction from the continuing discrimination faced by trans people and all queer people.  I definitely hear that.  I think there are a lot of thoughts to be shared on this issue but there is one thing I want to make clear:

I give no credit to our political system for the passage of marriage equality in NYS!

All of the credit goes to the tireless activists that have fought in the streets and demanded justice for decades.  Just like the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, the powers that be, eventually had no choice but to capitulate.

Just look at Barack Obama, a man who as an aspiring state senator nearly twenty years ago supported gay marriage.  As a presidential hopeful, he completely changed his position.  I believe that he changed his position because he assumed that supporting marriage equality was an unelectable position.  Most politicians don't take important stands because something is the right thing to do.  They finally take stands when the groundswell of public opinion has given them no alternative. 

Sure, Republicans could have balked again at marriage equality but the writing was on the wall.  New York residents weren't going to stand for it.  See Frank Padavan a man who was a state senator for 38 years and was voted out of office over this very issue.  Andrew Cuomo knew this, that's why he jumped on it from the beginning.  Now he can go ahead and grab the praise as a crusader for a just cause.  He will do this while he advocates policies that will literally choke the concept of public education into an apparition, leaving poor working people with no hope of climbing out of debt while attempting to gain knowledge and some basic upward mobility.  At the same time, he will save the many millionaires and billionaires in our state the burden of paying taxes that they've already been paying for several years. 

I say the credit goes to Andrew Cuomo over my mom's dead body.  My mom was a feminist professor and gay rights activist.  She fought for a handful of marginalized working class queer students on her community college campus when it wasn't fashionable to carry the banner of "Equality".  No this victory has nothing to do with Andrew Cuomo, it has to do with Danny Garvin, a man who was at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the night of the famed riot.  He traveled back to the Stonewall Inn this evening to watch the vote on TV.  This victory is his. 

I refuse to give credit to some Republican Senator for finally realizing that people have the right to be treated as human beings.  Not when we remember the names of people like Brandon Teena and Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado and the many stolen lives that died because of institutionalized discrimination and hatred. 

The powers that be are responsible for the years of discrimination that LGBTQ people have faced. 

And the people are responsible for demanding the justice that is symbolized by this vote!


  1. Two issues here. As to 'credit,' I agree with you, though I'd say it's not a yes/no kind of thing. It's inarguable: the heroes are who they are. But 'credit' is a spectrum, not a coinflip.

    That said: If I want my dog not to crap on my rug, it makes sense to pet him a bit when he holds his water. If I come home and the mutt hasn't pooped all over the floor, I don't take the opportunity to kick him in the teeth just because he chewed my slippers last week.

    Political power is at best a necessary evil. Those in power will never be the benevolent angels (dictators) our hearts desire; this is the reason activism exists.

    On this issue, tonight Gov Cuomo sided with our activists over theirs, and he twisted arms to do it. That is nontrivial. To me he looks a hell of a lot better than those voting 'nay.'

    But even if you disagree and see him as pure corruption, you are aware of the law of carrot and stick. Just think of him as a tool, or at best a mangy dog. Positive reinforcement works too. Send him a racy tweet or something.

  2. I definitely share your frustration. I cringe when I hear the phrase "Political Courage" used in description of those who are doing only what they feel they have little choice to do.
    That said, I believe that the activism and true courage displayed by folks like your mom is as much a part of the political system you are refusing to give credit to as the systemic imbalance of power is. That is, I MUST give credit to the system. What I will never do is to forget that the system is horribly imbalanced BY DESIGN, and that this must be changed.