Marriage Equality in New York State

I have debated whether to post this topic on my blog, finally deciding it was much too important of an issue to remain silent about. For those few that may not have known, I am gay. Normally I feel no need to advertise this aspect of my life because it does not totally define who I am as a person, but once stated is often the only aspect people will take from the conversation. I mention it now because I am affected by the outcome of the Marriage Equality proposition in New York State.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo urges everyone to contact their State Legislators and tell them to vote YES on marriage equality.

This is the inspirational speech that helped pass the City of Troy’s resolution supporting Marriage Equality

I did as the Governor requested, contacting both Assemblyman George Amedore and Senator Hugh Farley. I received no response from the Senator and the following from the Assemblyman:

May 26, 2011

Dear Gerald,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the current directive for gay marriage. As your representative, it is important to hear from constituents I represent, as their correspondence helps me make more informed decisions.

As you know, the bill A.7600 would change the definition of “marriage” in New York State and thereby authorize same-sex marriage. Altering the definition of marriage would open access to civil benefits and protections previously unafforded to same-sex couples. As legislators continue to discuss the issue in Albany, I will be sure to share your concerns with my colleagues in the Assembly.

Thank you again for your correspondence. If I can ever be of assistance to you in the future, or if you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

George Amedore
Member of Assembly
105th Assembly District

On June 2, 2011 the Troy City Council passed a resolution urging the legalization of Marriage Equality to our State Legislators with the unanimous vote of 9-0. The resolution was introduced by Troy City Councilman Ken Zalewski who has taken the initiative to make a difference for the gay community.

Would the Amsterdam City Council do the same?

The United Federation of Teachers also support Marriage Equality in New York.

“Our union prides itself on a diverse membership and as a champion of equality we believe that it is time for all New Yorkers to be treated equally,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “This is a civil rights issue and we are calling on New York State’s Legislature to pass marriage equality legislation and give all New Yorkers the right to marry the person they love.”

As Governor Cuomo stated, this is NOT a religious issue, it is a Civil Rights issue. Gay couples are denied over 700 State rights and 1000 Federal rights enjoyed by married couples. Currently Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have made Marriage Equality a reality in the United States.  My personal experience tells me that discrimination still thrives in this Country despite noble efforts to eradicate it.

Billboard on 787 in Albany, NY paid for by Bombers Burritos.

For more information contact the organization Freedom to Marry or the Human Rights Campaign.

Update #1:

Today I received  the following response from 4th Ward Alderman and Mayoral candidate William D. Wills:

Gerry,

With all the problems that the local level has to deal with mainly because our State leaders don’t, I always thought in the past that issues like these should be dealt with on the State level.   However, I also always thought that this particular issue should not even be one.   Whatever someone in their private lives feels is good for them should be their private matter and decision as long as it does not affect the lives and
safety of the public at large.   This issue of marriage equality surely does not pose a threat to us.

Maybe if enough local level governments pass these type of
resolutions then the State’s Legislature will act on it.   It doesn’t mean that you support gay rights but it does mean you support equality when it comes to people making decisions that may be different than the rest of us again not affecting our lives and safety.

I will venture to say that even the strongest opponent of gay
marriages has a family member or friend that is gay.   Personally the word gay is offensive to me and should be to those labeled as such.   It has assumed a bad connotation.

I can remember when physically and mentally challenged individuals were looked downed up, hidden from the general public, and never thought could be productive members of our community.   Organizations like Liberty and Lexington have changed that.   What’s the difference with someone who may like the same sex as opposed to the opposite sex?   Those that oppose marriage equality do so because I believe that they are not secure in their own beliefs and feelings.

Gerry, please forward to us a copy of the resolution that the City of Troy passed for our consideration.   We could make this an interesting side issue of this year’s campaign.

The only thing I admire of our past Vice President Dick Cheney was the love he has for his gay daughter Mary and the fact that he does not deny her existence or his love for her.   The former vice president has long offered his daughter his unrelenting love and support, and very recently came out in favor of gay marriage, saying, “I think that freedom means freedom for everyone.” I think that this underscores that a strong
conservative argument can be made in favor marriage equality.  I further think it underscores my bafflement that anyone would dare cross Cheney in this regard, because, remember what happened to his hunting buddy.

Loving someone for what they are, now that’s what equality is all about.

Alderman Wills

I appreciate any responses I receive from my elected officials and Alderman Wills has been very forthcoming with responding to my requests and inquiries.

The main point is that we need this change now.

Update #2:

Information received from Troy City Councilman Ken Zalewski:

Mr. Skrocki,

Thank you for you interest in the Resolution in Support of Marriage Equality that the Troy City Council passed unanimously at our June 2 monthly meeting.
I appreciate the sentiments that Alderman Wills offers below, especially the quip about not crossing Dick Cheney.  🙂
The full text of the resolution (as a PDF) can be found here:
In addition, the full broadcast of our Council meeting is available online at:
The public speaking portion is at the beginning (where a Reverend and a Rabbi both spoke out in support of the resolution), and the actual vote is at the end.
I hope you are able to take this up and get it passed.  It makes a strong statement about your community, and ultimately, it is simply the right thing to do.
We are on the right side of history.
            -kz

Ken Zalewski
Councilman, District 5

Update#3:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 the City of Amsterdam will introduce a resolution in support of Marriage Equality and urging our State Legislators to pass  Marriage Equality Legislation.

Mayor Ann Thane:

I would hope that the Council would support this resolution. A.

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4 thoughts on “Marriage Equality in New York State

  1. Alayne

    Good luck Jerry! The good news is that I saw a poll that showed that the majority of New Yorkers are in favor of marriage equality. The bad news is that the state legislature does not always listen to the majority of New Yorkers! 😦

    • Thanks Alayne but Civil Rights should be everyone’s concern. The latest Quinnipiac poll (June 2, 2011) shows that 58% of New Yorkers approve of Marriage Equality while 36% oppose.

      I sent a request to the City of Amsterdam Common Council to take the City of Troy’s lead and pass a resolution in favor of Marriage Equality for the State Legislature. It will be interesting to see if I even get a response.

      Our namesake Amsterdam, Netherlands has had Marriage Equality since April 1, 2001!

      • Alayne

        Jerry,
        Unfortunately I am afraid that this might be too much for the alderpeople to wrap their heads around in such a short time. Listening to the local radio talk show this morning made me realize just how uninformed folks are. We are in upstate NY, and this type of thing obviously still freaks some people out. Most folks don’t even know a gay person, let alone have they ever been exposed to folks in a gay relationship. Give it time Jerry, more and more people will favor it and then the politicians won’t be so hesitant on voting in this into law. BUT PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP!

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