One Little Word ~ Married

On the stroke of midnight, Sunday July 24th, the first moment that Gay and Lesbian couples could legally become wedded partners in New York State, Gay-rights activists Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, of Buffalo, New York, took their vows before the splendor, beauty and rainbow display of Niagara Falls. They were among the first gay couples to pledge their love until death do them part, with the blessing of the state of New York, which last month became the sixth and largest of the United States of America to sanction gay marriage when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law. The couple was reported to be excited and even nervous, because they have been in a committed relationship for eleven years and never thought they would have this opportunity.

Between them, Kitty and Cheryle are grandmothers to twelve children, the results of their respective marriages. Both women refer to themselves as late bloomers who came out in their 50’s because people were not yet about to open their hearts to the idea of anything but traditional parenting; folks a little like those mud-slinging fundamentalists who even today claim to speak for morality and even proclaim the right to speak for God.

But Kitty and Cheryle are activists, so as they took their rightful places in the lives that work for them, they brought others along. Kitty is the President of OUTspoken for Equality, a group that turned Republican State Senator Mark Gristanti, from the Buffallo area, into a convert to their views. They state that, “We started a grassroots organization at our kitchen table. OUTspoken for Equality grew to be 1,800 western New Yorkers, with a spectrum of individuals. We were not just LGBT folks, but our family members and our friends.” Karen says that they want to set great examples for their children and grandchildren. “It was really important to us [in fighting for marriage] that none of our grandchildren ever be considered less than an equal human being. [Marriage equality] means that every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family has the right to equal protection under the law.” 

I would expect that the new law will be a great opportunity for Niagara Falls as well for as the Lesbian and Gay couples who will take advantage of the falls’ romance and the beauty. And there have been and will continue to be weddings all over the state. In fact, there was another wedding of serious note on Sunday. It took place in the lovely yard of Gracie Mansion, the home occupied by the Mayors of New York City. 

Currently, Gracie Mansion is the abode of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg whose pleasure it was to host the wedding of his friends John Feinblatt, his Chief Advisor for Policy and Strategic Planning, and his long-time partner Jonathan Mintz, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). By their sides were their daughters Maeve, 8, and Georgia, 6. As the story goes, the Mayor was the one who brought up the subject of marriage and then offered to officiate if they liked, saying ''If you'd like me to do it, I'd really love to.” 
The Mayor, who rarely performs marriages, made an exception because Mr. Feinblatt and Mr. Mintz personalized the issue of same-sex marriage for him. ''John and Jonathan are two of the smartest and hardest-working people in our administration. This just felt like the best way for me to say thank you.''

There are, as can be expected, detractors. America is filled with wonderful, open-minded, welcoming, progressive spirits. But it is also populated with people who think that rights should be limited to only those who look, think, vote, and see the world as they do. Some, like those below, feel fine about vilifying those who don't. I suspect they feel threatened by them in some way.     

1) The anti-gay marriage group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn New York's law legalizing gay marriage in the state. 
2) Michelle Bachman, Congresswoman from Minnesota, candidate for the Republican presidential  primary is no fan of gay marriage. One report notes that when she was a state senator, Bachman told a Christian television network as thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally for a same-sex marriage ban she proposed. “We will have immediate loss of civil liberties for five million Minnesotans…. In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.” 
3) Glenn Beck, whose scientific credentials must have been obtained in Sunday school says, “I contend marriage is the building block of the entire universe. If the male and the female don’t get together, then the whole universe collapses…”

But detractors come from many corners. Playwright, author, gay activist and a founder of Gay  Men's Health Crisis and Act Up Larry Kramer, said that as long as the federal government doesn’t recognize same sex marriage, celebration in New York is misguided. “These marriages, in whichever state, are what I call feel-good marriages,” he also said. “Compared to the benefits heterosexual marriages convey, gay marriages are an embarrassment — that we should accept so little, and with so much hoopla of excitement and self-congratulation.”

Actually viewed from either a joyous or not so joyous perspective, same-sex marriage legalization in New York is a significant development, in part because of the size, visibility and expansiveness of the state, and in part because of its symbolism. It has been a long road from the Stonewall uprising in New York City in 1969 through a winding history that includes the AIDS epidemic and a lot of struggle to get to Gay Marriage. And there is a long way to go. But at least for now it seems like a good idea to take this as a win, celebrate it, and sign on for whatever comes next.

What We Can Do:
Please visit the blog of longtime Activist David Mixner who lays it all out for us:

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