Last night, the state of New York officially passed the Marriage Equality Bill, which makes (this will be the last time I say these words) "gay marriage" legal in the state of New York.
The bill itself is monumental accomplishment for many people, for many reasons.
1. The bill is allowing marriage - Not civil unions or civil partnerships. While this may seem insignificant, the wording of the bill and the definition of marriage allows for truly equal rights for all.
2. There is language in the bill which, to the best of my understanding, makes impossible for the bill to be overturned or challenged by any other piece of legislation. Basically, it's here to stay.
3. There is legal protection for religious institutions who have a moral opposition to equal marriage. Protecting them from any legal recourse as a result of denying a couple a marriage based on religious beliefs. - Personally, I believe this is the reason the bill passed.
We all know that I am not a New Yorker (yet), but I watched the live stream of the senate hearing from the beginning. I have to say, as someone who is interested in politics in general, I found myself getting sucked into other issues that have absolutely no effect on me, like property taxes. Which was a blessing because the Marriage Equality Bill was the last thing on the docket, and it was a long wait.
I can't recall the time, but eventually the bill was being discussed. The first order of business was to outline and pass an amendment to the bill. From there, it was time to vote on the bill itself. This is where things got interesting.
With each vote, a senator is allowed to speak for two minutes, explaining the reason for their vote. This was my introduction to Democratic Senator Rubén Díaz, who I discovered last night, is one of the most inarticulate, unprofessional, disgusting individuals on the face of the planet. Let me say up front, Dîaz voted against the bill, but that has nothing to do with my opinion of him. Remember that 2 minute explanation courtesy I just explained? Mr, Dîaz felt it did not apply to him. He rambled on for what felt like hours, explaining with zero charisma why he was against the bill. His biggest reason? Words from the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization. I'm sorry senator… perhaps you need a little refresher in U.S. Constitutional Politics. In this country, we have something called separation of church and state. You should be ashamed of yourself, and I would like nothing more than to see you resign from your seat.
On the flip side, have Republican Senator Mark Grisanti, who I believe summed up the entire marriage equality debate flawlessly.
I am paraphrasing here, but the following was the highlight of the speech for me:
As a Catholic, I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not here however, as a senator who is just Catholic. I am also here with a background as an attorney, through which I look at things and I apply reason. -- I can not legally come up with an argument against same sex marriage. Who am I to say that someone does not have the same rights that I have with my wife, who I love, or to have the 1,300 plus rights, that I share with her.
This is a man who originally voted against the Marriage Equality Bill, yet acknowledged, with proper research, and facts, a person can be wiser than they were in the past.
The most important detail to take from Senator Grisanti's speech, is the fact that there is no reason to legally deny anyone the right to marriage. Despite the pageantry of marriage and weddings put on by society, marriage is quite simply a legal contract. Which is why (aside from religious objection) I could never see the problem with same sex marriage. Marriage is a human right. There is no reason for any law to dictate who a person can marry as there is no law that defines love. And the fact that we are voting on marriage equality at all, bothers me.
That said, this is a tremendous step in the right direction. People everywhere should be proud to see the progression of equality in the United States and I applaud the state of New York for doing the right thing. And hopefully, for also laying a path for the rest of the country to follow.