History was made last month when New York became the largest state in the nation to confer all of the rights, benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage upon same-sex unions. Same-sex couples — some who have been together for decades — will soon be able to get married and raise families knowing that their unions and their children will be protected under New York State law.
Brooklyn, home to one of the largest LGBT communities in the nation, will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this great achievement. Sadly, however, it is also home to some of marriage equality’s fiercest opponents.
State Sen. Marty Golden, Conservative Party chairman Mike Long, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio exerted tremendous amounts of pressure to defeat the marriage equality bill. It is sad that so much of their time, resources and influence were spent on preventing people from getting married, instead of focused on real threats to families, like unemployment, debt, foreclosure, child abuse, domestic violence and lack of affordable health care.
Fortunately, 58 percent of New Yorkers, including a growing number of Catholics and young people, saw their arguments as weak, mean-spirited and long-discredited. And lawmakers determined that supporting marriage equality was morally and politically the right thing to do. Indeed, not only was this a practical victory for LGBT couples, it was a symbolic victory for equality. Democrats, Republicans and Independents together affirmed that LGBT people deserve full and equal rights.
Much of the credit for this achievement goes to Gov. Cuomo and to New Yorkers United for Marriage, the coalition of advocates which masterfully guided this bill to passage. Here in Brooklyn, Lambda Independent Democrats and other progressive organizations contributed by helping to mobilize thousands of people to contact state senators and by fighting for years to elect pro-equality candidates to public office. Victory, however, could not have been achieved without the thousands of New Yorkers — including many straight allies — who stood up and voiced their support for marriage equality.
Whenever fairness and equality prevail over ignorance and fear, all people benefit. Brooklyn and all of New York are better places to live as a result of this victory.
Matthew McMorrow is co-president of Lambda Independent Democrats, Brooklyn’s LGBT political club.