As Coretta Scott King bravely declared before our country was ready:
I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. ... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people. ... Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriage.
New York can soon help our nation live up to the promise of our Constitution. But the struggle for justice and equality is never easy and this will take work. Follow me around the fold for how we can help make history.
New York Governor David Paterson supports marriage equality. The New York state Assembly has passed bills in favor of marriage equality, but the State Senate, which was controlled by Republicans, consistently blocked progress on the issue. This November, the people of New York spoke - they gave New York a Democratic state Senate. The path to marriage equality seemed set. Enter State Senator Ruben Diaz and three (or four) other Democratic senators who stand on the wrong side of history.
Senator Diaz is a "Democrat" who strongly opposes marriage equality and other basic civil rights. After The Democrats won a majority in the Senate, Diaz pulled a Joementum and threatened to caucus with the Republicans and thereby return Senate control to the Repubs. First, he claimed to be upset because America has a black president, New York has a black Governor, and the new Senate Majority leader, Malcolm Smith, is also black. Seriously. (And, no Diaz did not have these concerns three years ago when America had a white president and New York's governor and Senate Majority leader were white). Apparently those divisive and petty racial politics weren't enough to justify Diaz's obstructionism, because Diaz soon found a new justification for threatening to caucus with the Republicans:
This week, he announced that his opposition is so strong that he's ready to hang his membership in the State Senate Democratic caucus on this one subject [and thereby send control of the Senate back to the Republicans]. "Just give it to me in writing that you will not bring the gay marriage to the floor and you got me," Diaz told the Post, presumably addressing incoming Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. The Democrats will hold a one-person majority in the state body as of right now, so Diaz's position is extremely important.
So, New Yorkers, here is our challenge: A majority of our elected officials seem to support marriage equality. This coalition includes a strong majority of Democrats and some Republicans. On the other side stands Senator Diaz and 3-4 other Senators who seem proud to stand in the way of history. We need to beat them or change their minds. Call Senator Diaz's office at (718) 991-3161 or (518) 455-2511. Be respectful. Be polite; but ask him not to stand in the way of progress in New York. And, if Diaz insists on denying us this civil right, let's find a good candidate who can beat him in the 2010 primary.
For those of you on facebook, join the Marriage Equality New York group - it's a great tool for getting organized. And we need to get organized (Democracy for New York City is planning to push this issue and we want to work with all coalition groups).