It has been a week since I was so nervous. Alot of us were, we had been waiting close to a week. The New York Senate was already suppose to be in recess. Thursday June 23rd 2011 had gone, and nothing. I was getting really nervous.
Let me start from the begining with the failure of the last vote on marriage equality in New York and the close calls, but ultimate loses in California and in Maine. The gay marriage momentum that had given us Massachussets, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Iowa had ground to a halt. But then the Human Rights Campaign along with partners started a video campaign for equality in New York. Celebrities came out in support, but nothing suprising. Well until John McCain's wife and daughter Cindy and Meghan came out in favour of marriage equality. And the ball didn't stop rolling with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Barbara Bush, daugher of former president George W. Bush either. But the shock came to me as I called the local republican NY Senator Jim Alesi. Sure I had called before, not really believe it would matter. As the phone was answered, I spoke saying I was calling to ask the Senator to vote in favour of marriage equality. "Yes, " was the answer, "Jim Alesi announced an hour ago that he was going to vote yes!"
And so it began, the hopes, the waiting. Being nervous but really hoping inside that this was it. As another republican senator join Jim, we were only one vote short. However, the Republicans controled the NY Senate. And sure two were for it, but the vast majority were against. The Democrat controlled legislature passed the bill easily and Governor Cuomo was the one who introduced the bill. So it was all down to the Senate.
Then news came last Friday, June 24th, that the Senate would have an up or down vote. So I became glued to twitter and the news. Nervous, we were still a vote short, counting on Republicans to pass marriage equality. But then it happened as New York Senator Stephen Saland became the extra vote. He spoke infront of the Senate of a difficult decission but being tolerant and doing the right thing. But then one more republican senator, Mark Grisanti, said it best, "But I do believe you can be wiser today then yesterday."
We won, 33-29. But more importantly I learned that we can reach out. That we can make people wiser and tolerant. Have been raised by an extremely stubborn and religious mother, this was important to me. As important as having the first Republican controlled legislature in the country pass marriage equality.
And it is about fairness and equality. Its about us having the same rights and responsibilities. It is about our ability to marry the person we love. It is not about religion or any agenda. It is about joy and love and community. It is American!
I am proud to be a New Yorker! The Empire State Building in New York City lit up last week for Pride Week. I can't wait for the local Rochester, NY Pride July 8-17th.