Gay marriage now • Brooklyn Paper

Gay marriage now

Back in April, The Brooklyn Paper asked six state Senators in our coverage area whether they would support the gay marriage bill that had just passed the Democrat-run Assembly.

All but one of the electeds — Eric Adams (D-Fort Greene), Martin Dilan (D-Greenpoint), Velmanette Montgomery (D-Park Slope), Diana Savino (D-Bay Ridge) and newcomer Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights — strongly supported the notion that people should be permitted to wed, regardless of the gender of their would-be spouse.

The lone holdout was longtime Republican standard-bearer Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge), who held onto the antiquated notion that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Given that the state’s actual role in the institution of marriage involves upholding the legality of a contract between two people, we wholeheartedly agree with the supporters of marriage equality.

That said, the state Senate leadership — which includes John Sampson (D-Brownsville) — has been appallingly slow to answer the call of history and extend this basic civil right to lesbians and gays. Senate leaders, only after Gov. Paterson shamed them by publicly calling for the Senate to finally take up the Assembly bill, finally agreed this week to bring the issue to a vote.

Of course, the vote was put off until “a date not certain between now and the end of the year,” as the governor put it.

Why the delay? The state is at a historic crossroads on what could be the civil rights issue of our time — the simple act of allowing someone to marry anyone he or she chooses. Just as laws once barred whites from marrying blacks, laws preventing gays from marrying one another must be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Into that bin should also be tossed leaders who cannot rise to this historic moment. When reaching out to lawmakers and political candidates, we are consistently amazed at how few would actually stand up and be counted on gay marriage — as if merely mentioning support for this civil right would encourage some constituents to grab pitchforks, tar and feathers.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge), for example, has refused more than two dozen interview requests on the subject. The same can be said for state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Sheepshead Bay). But silence on the issue speaks volumes. Neither lawmaker has the makings of true leadership, hoping instead that the issue goes away before he has to take a public stand.

History has a particular contempt for politicians who don’t answer the call of the times, or, worse, remain silent when their voices are so urgently needed. On gay marriage, Gentile, Kruger and others deserve that scorn.

But for our part, we urge the state Senate to pass the Assembly bill to allow gays and lesbians to marry and share the joy — and, more important, the civil benefits of marriage — that the rest of us have been experiencing.

More from Around New York