promoted by Rosi
Two years is a long time. Just two years ago, I was at the beginning of my political career and just starting to see the ins and outs of campaigns. That winter was my first experience going to the state house to lobby the legislature an issue that does not affect me, but I care deeply about. Now, fast forward two years later, and I am still heading to the same state house to lobby a slightly different legislature (with a very different governor who promises to veto the bill) on the very same issue-marriage equality. The general population has grown more accepting of the issue, as students who formed gay-straight alliances in school are now old enough to vote and a large state like my home state of New York passed marriage equality through their legislature (as New Jersey is now trying to do.)
Unlike two years ago, my schedule allowed me to attend the hearing where testimonies from both sides were heard. On one side, I heard heartbreaking stories about how our “separate but equal” civil union law was not recognized by medical facilities and funeral directors, and the financial pain and hoops that civil unioned couples have to jump through to have their relationship recognized. On the other side I heard sermons (including a direct reading of the Mormon Church’s teachings on marriage and family), and even a rant about how recognizing same sex marriage would lead to the government controlling circumcision. And of course nothing on gay rights is complete without a Rick Santorum’s protégé comparing same sex marriage to marrying a dog (Perhaps I should get his name and give it to Dan Savage). The one common theme I noticed among the opposition was their issue with the word “marriage” as if the definition has never changed over the years (that is a diary coming later this week as I further research the history of marriage).
Thankfully, unlike two years ago, not a single senator gave a disgusting “foot in mouth” speech about the LGBT community (that senator, Sean Kean, is now my assemblyman and will be as long as he wants to be as the district is one of the most Republican in the state) and even the opponents were respectful of the problems that civil unioned couples go through. However, while there was a lot of talk (then and now) about the inequality of the civil union law, not a single marriage equality opponent introduced legislation to strengthen the civil union law by making healthcare providers recognize them (someone please correct me if I am wrong).
If our current governor gets his way, he will dance around the marriage equality issue (as it would damage his presidential hopes by doing the right thing and signing the bill) by making this a ballot initiative, thus opening the airwaves to misinformation spread by the Mormon Church (as they did in California in 2008). Marriage is a civil right (see Loving v. Virginia) period. I am sorry Chris Christie, but civil rights should not be on the ballot period. Could you imagine the society we would live in today had racial issues been decided by the people?