New York State of Mind – Rights not Rites

New York State of Mind – Rights not Rites

Congratulations to all who worked so hard and so long to bring Marriage Equality to the empiric state: those who stood vigil in Albany, those who lobbied the halls, those who changed their minds, those who wrote checks, those on whose shoulders this victory stands. I’m still in a NY pinch-me state of shock.

First, the vote feels like partial redemption from New York’s embarrassing Weinergate.  That story didn’t really rate a “-gate” coverage, but photos of Viagra-enhanced penises are much easier to, uh, grasp than the fine points of power shifts in the Mideast or debt ceiling debates.

That Weiner saga was a dizzying gay-straight reversal.  It was such an old-school gay story – salacious details about penile practices, ab shots, video entrapment, tearful denials – and yet it was about a straight guy. Meantime the LGBT people were fully clothed, lobbying, and strategizing for the legitimate right to marry, just like straight people.

A special shout-out to NY’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for his disciplined leadership.  Amazing what justice can be accomplished when a leader leads. Of course it is sad that that leadership should be so remarkable. See: “the president is evolving”.

The turning point in the debate came when a pro forma religious exemption was included in the bill.  Anti-gay churches had wanted a guarantee that they could not be forced to host gay marriages in their churches or halls. What a pleasant wedding.  Everyone standing around glowering at each other.  “I’ll give them wine, but it won’t be the good stuff.”

The surprisingly tepid resistance of the NY Archdiocese was not because the Revs. Dolan or Diaz had better things to do.  It is because the Catholic Church does not have a moral leg to stand on.  And when some in the church chastised Gov. Cuomo for living in sin with his girlfriend – he can’t remarry because he’s divorced – I think it put some vendetta in the Venn diagrams of voting districts.

In all the follow-up stories, one thing is clear. The most successful strategy for achieving full LGBT justice is still coming out of the closet.  In story after story, it was an enraged gay brother, a challenging lesbian daughter, uncles, aunts, neighbors, co-workers, co-state-Senators who were visible and vocal. They changed hearts and minds and finally votes.

And come July, the New York Times is going to have to add some pages to the Vows section for gay wedding coverage.