During the last GOP debate in New Hampshire, both former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stated that they would support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage – a move that would be almost impossible to achieve given how hard it is to change this country’s Magna Carta (an example is the fact that a handful of states never ratified the repeal of the Volstead act). In the meantime, a bill legalizing gay marriage in New York is gaining momentum. If current predictions are correct, the Empire State might soon be joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia as the pioneer states that recognize marriage equality in the books.
Of course, many social conservative voices and religious leaders – including New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan – have voiced their opposition to the bill, warning that the state should not try to ‘redefine’ marriage, which they believe should only happen between a man and a woman.
The majority of the electorate – myself included – in this state disagrees. According to recent polls, 58 percent of New Yorkers support gay marriage. Those who oppose likely do so for religious or personal moral reasons. Some believe that allowing gay and lesbians to marry is wrong “because these sexual unions are unique in their ability to produce children — even unintentionally in many cases,” according to an open letter posted on the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group that crusades against same-sex marriage across the country.
I have expressed my support to gay marriage for a long time now. My reasoning is simple – almost in line with libertarian philosophy: the government has no business interfering on whom can or cannot marry. I feel it is unfair to create a whole level of second-class citizens who are denied rights that heterosexuals take for granted. And to those who say that same-sex relations are ‘unstable,’ I just ask them to look at the divorce stats in this country – almost 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce within the first five years, and things don’t look good for those who remarry, either.
The United States is considered a modern country, but we have been backward in so many ways. For instance, Just 45 years ago (around the time that “Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner” was in production), interracial marriages were illegal in 16 states, and it took a 1967 Supreme Court decision to end that and other racist laws. Around the same time, just being openly gay would cost a citizen his or her job, livelihood and even freedom – anti-sodomy laws in the south were only thrown out about a decade ago.
It is time to end this nonsense, and though it will take many years to do so, New York has to be at the forefront of change. Like the visionary politicians and magistrates of the 50s and 60s, New York senators have to go against the grain and set the tone for a whole new country.