The venerable Empire State Building was aglow in rainbow lights the night of June 23, as New Yorkers celebrated the signing of the historic Marriage Equality Act.
New York became the sixth—and largest—state to enact same-sex marriage, following Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia.
On June 26, tens of thousands of Manhattanites bearing rainbow flags and “Thank You Governor Cuomo” posters took to the streets for New York City’s Gay Pride Parade.
Much complex negotiation had taken place before four Republican senators joined all but one Democrat to pass the bill in the New York Senate.
The political implications of the law will be discussed in minute detail, but the immediate results were optimism and an outpouring of wedding plans.
Reverend Stephen H. Phelps, Senior Minister at Manhattan’s Riverside Church, was looking forward to replacing the commitment ceremonies performed there for years with something state-sanctioned.
“I think,” Phelps said, “it is an occasion for members of our society who have been burned by narrow-minded religion to see that it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Actor Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka tweeted that they coproposed, and have worn rings for the past five years. They’re already a family, dads of twin sons Gideon and Harper.
Harris wrote that momentous night, “It PASSED! Marriage equality in NY!! Yes!! Progress!! Thank you everyone who worked so hard on this!! A historic night!”
I was reminded of Palm Springs on June 21, 2008, where I covered the city’s marriage celebration during the brief window within which 18,000 same-sex couples were allowed to marry—before Proposition 8 passed that November 4. Every same-sex couple with a wedding license who wished to participate could marry that evening.
I was moved by the joy and deep purpose of the partners. Typical was Thomas Van Etten, who exclaimed, “I’ve been partnered for 40 years with Robert Van Etten. I took his last name in 1975 to make a political statement about same-sex marriage.”
Now, New Yorkers will have a chance, like fellow straight citizens, to avail themselves of the right to marry the person they love, to create families and joined lives.
In time, this right will come to all Americans—Californians again…and Minnesotans. May it be sooner than later.