THE ISSUE As a new law goes into effect, gay couples begin to marry in New York.
OUR VIEW Passage of the law, as well as the ceremonies themselves, should provide continued momentum for evolution on gay marriage.
It’s official. Gay couples are now legally marrying in New York. The Empire State is now the largest in the union to legalize same-sex marriage and, as the clock struck midnight Saturday, heralding the dawning of the day the new law took effect, couples from Montalk Point to Niagara Falls legalized their long-term commitments.
On Monday, however, a lawsuit was filed claiming that the Senate prevented lawmakers who opposed the bill from speaking and that the Senate didn’t follow procedures that require a bill to go through appropriate committees before a full Senate vote.
Still, this civil rights victory happened because elected officials changed their minds amid political pressure and personal soul-searching.
Many positions “evolved,” especially through the process of getting to know gay couples and realizing their families are as worthy of respect as anyone else’s. One of the New York legislators who changed his vote — Joe Bruno’s state Senate successor, Roy McDonald — put it in blunt terms: “You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.”
Across the country, public opinion has been evolving at a rapid pace on this issue. Polls find more than half of Americans now support legalizing same-sex marriage, though state referenda on the issue have not reflected that.
Count President Barack Obama among those who say their opinion on this issue is “evolving,” though he has not yet evolved enough to say he actually favors it. Obama has been all over the map on this issue, frankly, and his current position is that states should make their own decisions.
We hope he soon makes his stance clearer, but the cynic in us suspects that might not happen until sometime after November 2012.
Still, Obama administration sources say his attitude has evolved for the same reasons others have changed their minds: He has “very close friends who are married gay and lesbian couples.”
This is where the personal becomes political. If it affects someone you know, suddenly the issue isn’t ideological anymore. Indeed, those pushing for same-sex marriage in New York included prominent Republican political fundraisers and Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
This sea change started with gay men and lesbians having the courage to come out. More and more Americans now know people who are openly gay.
Many states have put up legal barriers to stop the tide, and removing them will take time. But nobody’s going back into the closet, and in New York, thousands of gay couples are now tying the knot.
Page 2 of 2 - And, like passage of the law allowing them to marry, all those Champagne toasts will help attitudes continue to evolve.