Thursday, December 3, 2009

Empire State Failure

The New York state senate voted down marriage equality.

The 38-to-24 vote startled proponents of the bill and signaled that political momentum, at least right now, had shifted against same-sex marriage, even in heavily Democratic New York. It followed more than a year of lobbying by gay rights organizations, who steered close to $1 million into New York legislative races to boost support for the measure.

Senators who voted against the measure said the public was gripped by economic anxiety and remained uneasy about changing the state’s definition of marriage.

“Certainly this is an emotional issue and an important issue for many New Yorkers,” said Senator Tom Libous, the deputy Republican leader. “I just don’t think the majority care too much about it at this time because they’re out of work, they want to see the state reduce spending, and they are having a hard time making ends meet. And I don’t mean to sound callous, but that’s true.”

I’ve heard of some really weak excuses for denying gays and lesbians the same rights as straight people to marry, but blaming it on the economy is right up there with “the dog ate my homework.”

Apparently there were some pre-vote agreements between Republicans and Democrats that assured the passage that either fell through or became the victims of political cowardice, as well as the aftermath of the recent election in upstate New York where same-sex marriage became the cudgel of the ignorant and obsessed right-wingers. Whatever the reasons, it’s a discouraging disappointment.

It’s a setback, but it’s not a defeat. The Catholic church may prate on about “marriage the way it has always been understood” — which, I assume, refers to the biblical version of marriage which includes multiple wives and selling your daughter to your neighbor in exchange for a cow — but to deny what they call the “basic building block of our society” to everyone, regardless of gender, is hypocritical and undemocratic.

I firmly believe that marriage equality is inevitable. It’s just going to take a little longer, and it’s going to require more courage and tenacity than the current crop of representatives in the Empire State can muster.