I am, of course, gutted.
Every time marriage equality loses, I'm gutted. But today, as the vote was taking place in my state, in the place I'm called home for a decade now, I'm particularly affected.
But there are at least three reasons to be proud of the New York Senate today.
We in government do not determine the quality or the validity of peoples' relationships; if we did we would not issue three quarters of the marriage licenses we do.
After she lists, with great eloquence and humor, the many indignities contemporary straight America has inflicted upon marriage (her wonderful rant culminating in an excoriation of The Bachelor and other shows of its ilk), she concludes:
If there's anything wrong or any threat to the sanctity of marriage in America, if comes from those of us who have the privilege and the right, and we have abused it for decades. [...] We have nothing to fear from people who are committed to each other, who want to share their love and protect one another in the event of sickness, illness, or death. We have nothing to fear from love and commitment. My only hope, Tom, is that we pass this bill, the governor signs it, and then we can learn from you, and you don't learn from us.
Thank you, Diane Savino, for your humor, your eloquence, and your humility.
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia, and Nebraska. All states that at one time or another sold blacks into slavery and participated in legal slavery. Because the numerical majority is in one place does not mean they're in the right place. We're in a position right now where we have to lead the country to the right place.
He connects the fight for marriage equality to a long history of Civil Rights in America, connecting it unflinchingly to the struggles of African Americans. He brilliantly reads quotes from over 40 years ago, when the nation was locked in a very similar debate about inter-racial marriage; most of them could just as easily be mouthed by Maggie Gallagher today.
Not, of course, because the two struggles are the same. He does this not, of course, because the experience of being gay is somehow the same as the experience of being black.
No, he does this because, as longtime gay activist Bob Kohler explained when was asked why he was protesting the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a protest he was arrested for:
I do not equate my oppression with the oppression of blacks and Latinos. You can't. It is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle.
Thank you, Eric Adams, for also recognizing that for all the differences, it is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle.
Thank you, Eric Adams, for this:
I'm going to be a part of what's best about this country. I'm going to be a part of those who stood up and said "Yes. We should allow all to have a right to vote." [...] I'm going to be a part of change. I'm going to be an agent of change. I am going to vote for this important legislation.
I cannot do justice to the beautiful story she shares of her gay older brother, a brother who she clearly loved, a brother that she has never publicly revealed was gay until today. She tells the story of his rejection by her parents and by his country. She tells the deeply personal story that lead her, despite her religious convictions, despite the fact that she knew her own church would disapprove, to support marriage equality.
But she didn't simply offer her deeply personal motivation:
Nobody elected me to be the moral arbiter of their decisions. But they did ask me to provide leadership. [...] The decisions that I help to make on this floor are about total rights for all the people that I serve.
Thank you, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, for sharing your story.
Thank you, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, for providing leadership.
Yes, I'm sad, looking back at the day, that we didn't win. But this loss will not last. And the words of Senators Savino, Adams, and Hassell-Thompson, among others, will reach the ears of those who are still on the fence about marriage equality, and help to speed the inevitable march of progress.
Update [2009-12-3 14:47:34 by dedmonds]: Thanks for the overwhelming response to this diary. I have to head out to work and won't be able to keep up with comments until late tonight; I'll check in again then.