The passage of marriage equality in New York on Friday night is a big deal. Not only is it the largest state to do it, it was done in a state with a Republican majority in the state senate and with the work of both Republicans and Democrats who knew that regardless of political pressure from religious quarters and so-called “family values” groups, they were doing the right thing.
There will be some, perhaps a lot, of blowback from the anti-gay crowd; they’re already claiming that it wasn’t truly the voice of the people who passed the law because it wasn’t put to a vote of the people. That’s a usual straw to grasp at; representative democracy has its flaws (see Florida, state legislature), but by and large it has worked, and I’m willing to wager that if the question was put to a vote in a referendum in New York, it would have passed.
As for President Obama’s “still evolving” view on marriage equality, this is a case where what he believes and what he supports isn’t as important as what is happening on the ground in the states where the battle is being waged. I doubt that any New York state senator checked with the White House before the vote was taken on Friday night. Given the way the GOP thinks of Mr. Obama’s views on anything, I’m cynical enough to believe that had the president come out fully in support of the passage of the law in New York, the Republicans would have used that as their excuse to defeat it.
I’m wary of predictions. But I can’t help thinking that now that the state of New York has effectively doubled the number of Americans who live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, other states may follow. Yes, there are going to be states where the anti-gay backlash may grow because all them commie-pinko New York queers passed it, but all in all, last Friday was one of those moments where you can say that it was a good day for all of us.