For those of us struggling to make marriage a reality for all loving, committed same sex couples, this is a fascinating period in New York State politics. The Empire State Pride Agenda has been working on marriage since the early 2000’s, and it is very satisfying to see those years of hard work coming together to forcefully maximize the moment. Backed by the very vocal leadership of a historically popular governor, we’re working assiduously to make this the year that marriage equality will become a reality for LGBT New Yorkers. We’re not there yet, but the environment is quite strong.
The Assembly has passed a marriage equality bill a number of times, and always by a wide margin, but the only time it was brought to the Senate floor, it went down to defeat. It is our role as New York’s oldest and largest statewide LGBT advocacy organization to show the mile-wide, mile-deep support that exists for marriage equality.
The best news is that the people are so solidly on our side. A recent Siena poll showed 58% of New Yorkers firmly in favor of marriage equality. A majority of voters both upstate and downstate are with us, and support is the highest – 61% -- in downstate suburbs, areas that have been important to Senate Republicans, who currently hold a slim one seat majority. They need to be concerned about being seen as out of touch with their constituents in an area like Long Island, which is currently without even a single senator in public support of the legislation.
Not that all the work is on one side of the aisle. There remain a smaller but significant number of Democrats who voted against the legislation the last time it was brought up, and need to be moved.
The Pride Agenda is hard at work doing what we do best: taking the voices of everyday New Yorkers and amplifying them to be heard by our government.
· We hosted Equality & Justice Day last week where more than 1,200 LGBT New Yorkers and our allies went to Albany to rally and directly lobby our legislators;
· More than 720 clergy from across the state have added their voices to the chorus in support of marriage through a Pride Agenda program, Pride in My Pulpit;
· The business community is supportive through another initiative, New York Business for Marriage, that recognizes that marriage equality is a win-win-win for business, the economy and New York State;
· We are galvanizing support from organized labor, so New York unions representing literally millions of New Yorkers can publicly show their solidarity by standing up for marriage equality; and
· We’re actively phone banking, setting up local legislative meetings and sending out direct mail in State Senate districts where there are legislators who are undecided. Perhaps you even saw the television ads put out by the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition of which we are a founding member.
As I’ve seen so many times, the political winds of Albany can blow in many ways and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. We can’t promise a particular outcome, but we can promise to leave no stone unturned and not be swayed from our singular focus on winning equality and justice for ourselves and our families. Those interested in joining the fight should go to http://www.prideagenda.org/ to see how they can get involved.
for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.