Last night, I met up with Jacob in Sheridan Square after he had gotten off work and after I had spent the last couple of hours watching an online feed on the New York Senate, waiting for a gay marriage vote, waiting to see how the vote turned out. Gay marriage passed the Senate by a vote of 33-29 with four heroic Republican Senators joining the yes votes. I couldn't believe that this day had come, how quickly things can change. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had taken to the streets in front of Stonewall in the West Village to celebrate. It was a very beautiful moment, everyone screaming with joy, crying, and hugging each other.
This is a huge step forward that was unimaginable to me as a child. It was only ten years ago, in 2001, that the Netherlands became the first country to allow same-sex marriages. And it was only in 2003 that gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts. There are some queers that mourn and lament what this means for their marginalization. There are some that like being outsiders to the culture and that are frustrated that there are gays who push for things like same-sex marriage, that they are ruining their cool party. And, yes, something is being lost, but so much more is being gained, and the people who are most vocal about their contempt for gay marriage are those perched in comfortable enough positions because of their geography, class, and race that they cannot see how this is part of a larger changing of the culture, a queering of the culture, in which gay maybe is no longer the terribly isolating thing it is for some people, where with more and more speed it becomes more and more acceptable, more and more ingrained in mainstream culture. And so maybe this doesn't matter to Brooklyn homos who would like to pride themselves on their difference, who want desperately to hold on to one of the few signifiers of difference they possess, but this matters tremendously to gay-percieved children and teens in hostile school environments, that this is about being respected and recognized by our government, that it is hard to argue anyone else should treat you with respect when the government representing you fails to do so. This being signed into law will contribute tremendously to changing the culture. This is about gay teens surviving.
And that is why I cried last night when watching the Senate vote on this, when it became clear that it was going to pass, because this is such a momentous change that has occurred in our culture, that I am filled with tremendous hope that the voices of intolerance and hate become more and more marginalized, more and more in the minority each time these things come up for votes. We can mock Ruben Diaz and Archbishop Dolan for their absurd comments, we can exaggerate them, make them more absurd, and make it harder to take anything these two say concerning gay marriage seriously. I could not have been more delighted to see their vigorous efforts to "preserve" marriage fail and fall flat. It was a huge and amazingly coordinated advance down the field that was made. So much political muscle was put into this by gay organizations and they were tremendously successful. It is amazing to see how change is possible with hard work and the loud voices of many. I am impressed and awed by the tenacity of our city and state politicians that continued to push and push this issue, among them Mario Cuomo and Mike Bloomberg, despite the odds sometimes seeming long. I am tremendously grateful to every Assembly member and Senate member that voted to support this, particularly to the four Republican Senators (Sens. Alesi, Grisanti, Saland, and McDonald) who bucked conservative religious elements of their party that warned them that they would vote them out of office if they supported this. These are very courageous men and I am so thankful to them. Thank you so so much!
Jacob and I took in the scene for a while in Sheridan Square, screamed and celebrated with all these other gays at the site where the modern gay rights movement kicked off. Everyone was aware of the site being an important space, was aware of its history, and was there to celebrate a huge milestone that had been achieved due to the efforts of generations of gay men and women who have fought for justice and freedom. The energy there last night was electric and I couldn't believe it, was so incredibly happy. We went across the street eventually to the Monster to have some drinks. On the main level, we went into a corner against the windows to look out on to the scene outside. The piano player started playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The bar patrons started singing along. It could not have been a more perfect moment.