Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two Special Voices in New York

On June 24th, New York became the 6th state to pass marriage equality. I'm not going to "report" on the details. If you like you can just Google and read about that. What I do want to bring attention too is one state Senator in particular that voted in favor of marriage equality, Senator Mark Grisanti. 

He was sworn in back in January of this year. It didn't take long for the pressure to ramp up on marriage equality. Here is a brief time line leading up to Friday's vote.
  • After Lady Gaga asked concert goers to reach out to Grisanti and ask him to vote yes he responded in a radio interview on March 8, 2011, saying: "Civil unions and all the proponents that go along with that, I have no problem with. I have a problem with the term marriage itself. To me, marriage is between a man and a woman. It's been a term, a term of ours for years that has been around for thousands of years. It's like calling a cat, a dog. I don't think that that needs to be changed."
  • On May 17, 2011, it was reported that Grisanti had publicly stated that he would vote "no" on same-sex marriage.
  • On June 17, 2011, it was reported that he had changed his position on same-sex marriage to "undecided".
What I appreciated most was was his speech on the Senate floor on how he came to this decision. Please take some time and watch his speech below.

The second person I would like to discuss is my Aunt, who is 70+ years old. She has lived in upstate New York on a farm or in a small town her whole life. She always keeps up on state politics and other current events. She had sent me a quick note when the State Assembly passed the marriage equality bill through and that she was sure the Senate would do the same. I was glad at least she was confident. I knew we still had a fight on our hands at the time.

Apparently my Aunt knew what she was talking about because eight days later she was emailing me again. This time it was almost 11pm NY time and marriage equality had just passed the Senate. The subject: We made it in NYS. We'll come back to that.

 Here is the rest of the email
Hi ladies  - as you may have already heard  -   NYS is passing the "equality in marriage'  act this evening  -  job well done!
   Just wish the news folks would refrain from the term "same sex marriage act" -   that doesn't cover nearly any of the principles of this bill and really gives it a negative connotation rather than educating the public on the real need and assets of the bill.
                                                                                    Love A.
Simple right. But let's remember this is from a small town 70+ year old woman...not exactly the best demographic on this issue. What struck me first was that she just gets it. The end. The fact that she really gets it prompted me to post it on my Facebook and Tweet about it. If this 75 year old woman can get it then I know we can make this happen. If we come out, live open, educate people on how this discrimination effects us, we can change hearts and minds. We can do this.

While I got responses I had expected, a bunch of likes, a few re-tweets, etc - I also got a response I didn't expect. It was actually the first response from twitter. Here is the conversation

Let's just say that this conversation made me write a much stronger reply to my Aunt. Something that was probably going to be WOO HOO! turned into this


Thank you so much for your note. I hope you don't mind but I put it on Facebook. The understanding that you have and the support that you give is something many others in the gay community miss because their family has disowned them. I do not take it for granted and it has meant so much to me as has the support of my parents and many others in the family. The fact that this family never wavered in its support is a true statement to what family means and I believe a true statement about how you all were raised by Gram and always be there for each other.

So again thanks.
So, for me, there were two heroes on that night. One, a Senator that showed true courage by realizing that he might not know everything and seeking to understand all aspects of the issue. The other, a woman who reminded me day to day conversations matter and that I am so lucky to have a family that goes beyond the concept of just being related to each other. I am part of a family that you can count on to be there for you and give you support when needed.

By the way A., I owe you a hug.
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  1. Fabulous auntie you have, and you can be proud of what's been achieved in NYS. There's been yet another debate here in the French Parliament about same-sex marriage (fyi, the Socialists have voted a Civil Union some years ago, violently attacked by the Conservatives, but a Civil Union's not just the same right as marriage, is it?). And the Conseravtives have rejected the proposition again. Now same-sex marriage has become part of the Socialist agenda for the 2012-elections, so there might be some hope :-) I mean, I don't want to marry my boyfriend but I firmly believe those who want to should, no, MUST be allowed to do so. Especially when our neighbours (Belgium, ultra-Catholic Spain and Portugal amongst others) have legalized same-sex marriage. And when 58% of the French population seem to accept the principle of "same marriage-rights for everyone".
    Sorry for this lengthy comment, I just had to congratulate you and let some anger-steam about the French get out!

  2. Dieter, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I agree with all of your country's neighbors moving towards equality it seems time for France to do so as well. Keep me posted on how the fight for equality is going!

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