Tonight, the number of Americans who currently have access to marriage equality in their home states or districts more than doubled.*
With the clock winding down, the New York state Senate passed the marriage equality bill that had been passed in the Assembly last week – granting thousands upon thousands of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples and their families the ability to access the same protections afforded straight couples and families. This successful vote comes a year and a half or so after the bill fell short of the votes it needed, and nine years after Senator Tom Duane first introduced a marriage equality measure in his chamber.
This victory belongs to everyone who worked for it. From advocacy organizations like Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, Marriage Equality New York and Log Cabin Republicans, who made up the core of New Yorkers United for Marriage, and to the leaders from all walks of life – communities of faith, communities of color, sports, business and entertainment – who stood up for marriage equality.
It belongs to the men and women who were standing out in the cold and rain in Times Square to protest that 2009 vote, to the volunteers who carried the message of marriage equality to their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members, and to those of you who have been calling on the media to responsibly and accurately report on the issue and challenge the opponents of marriage equality by making them explain themselves.
This victory belongs to couples like Daniel Andrew Gross and Steven Goldstein and Leslie Miller and Alicia Salzer, who were putting commitment announcements in the New York Times back in 2002, before marriage equality was legal anywhere in the country. It belongs to people like Republican Senator Roy McDonald who ignored political pressure so that he could, in his words, “do the right thing.” It belongs to people like my chiropractor’s mom (described by my chiropractor as “not at all progressive”) who she says now “gets it” and recognizes that the old system just wasn’t fair – people who make up the nearly 60% of New Yorkers statewide who support marriage equality. And it belongs to those New Yorkers who will, over time, come to support it as well.
And this victory belongs to you, right now, whoever you are reading GLAADblog – for telling your story, whatever that story is. In 2008, we commissioned a study by Harris Interactive, called “Pulse of Equality.” (which you can download here) In it, we asked Americans who felt more supportive of LGBT issues than they did five years earlier WHY their positions had changed.
The vast majority – nearly 80 percent – cited “knowing someone who is LGBT” as a key reason. I happen to know firsthand that knowing someone who is an LGBT ally can be persuasive too. The more we talk about ourselves, the more we tell our stories, the more we show people who we are, the more victories like tonight’s we’ll see in the days, months, and years moving forward.
So celebrate this victory, all of you. You’ve earned it.
And congratulations, New York.
(*According to 2010 numbers, New York has more people than MA, CT, IA, VT, NH and DC combined)