Saturday, June 25, 2011

NY SSM Impacts

As the sixth state to legalize marriage equality, NY is more than another in a line of freedom lovers. With over 19 million residents, its SSM move is a huge deal.

The anti-gay/anti-SSM folk have long retrenched into pointing to the majority of states with anti-liberty votes banning SSM by law or amendment or both. Truth be told, they have gone as far as they possibly can with that.

Marriage equality is on the way, as many social conservatives regretfully admit. Short of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a ban in any state is unconstitutional or requiring states that do not permit SSM to recognize those valid in other states when the couples move there, the Texas and Virginia sorts will be a long, long time in allowing SSM.

I headed to the Haymarket this morning, listening to various NPR and PBS stations for pieces missing in newspaper coverage. I learned that the vote was around 10:30 last night, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing it into law before midnight, to take effect next month. When I returned, I found what I think was the best coverage, as it has been all along in the Albany paper, the Times-Union.

I heard and read a couple of pleasantly startling reports, including:
  • NY Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos went the way of wisdom. He could have bottled up the bill, preventing a vote and pushed the whole issue to next year. Instead, he not only allowed a vote but told his GOP colleagues to vote their consciences.
  • A couple of previously anti-SSM GOP Senators, notably Buffalo's Mark Grisanti, were among the four from their party that voted for SSM. He was the one who addressed the body and said he saw no reason to deny the rights he had in his marriage to others by sexual orientation.
The anti-marraige equality sorts have long played all sides of political games. They demand to have the people vote by legislature or ballot initiative, but only when they are positive they'll win. Otherwise, it is tyranny by Godless bullies. They use every legislative trick they can to prevent legislatures from passing SSM, even in states where the public polls in favor of it. They also often have bought into the threat that if you vote for any gay right, you'll lose your seat (regardless of how false that has proven).

Here instead, Skelos showed both personal honor and a respect for representative democracy.

In NY too Grisanti and a few others show what we have seen in other states whose legislatures approved SSM. They listen and learn from the public and their peer lawmakers. They changed their minds. They admit that their personal religion drummed into them from childhood should not be the basis of public policy, rather in how they live their own lives.

A few other states, notably New Jersey, may well follow suit after NY. The impact of yesterday's vote will reach far temporally and geographically.

NY state has well over half its residents in suburbs, exurbs and small towns and cities. That includes many social conservatives among voters and lawmakers. Yet the undeniable fairness of equality seems obvious to more people in more ways more often.

Those who fear democracy and hate personal freedom will increasingly become outliers. That can't happen soon enough for me.

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