Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

On Leadership, posted June 19, 2007 at 11:03 PM

This is what leadership looks like: During his campaign for office, a candidate for governor makes no hesitation to voice his support for marriage equality. He does this despite the fact that a majority of his state's voters do not support same-sex marriage. However, a majority of the state's voters do support some sort of codified equal rights--domestic partnerships or civil unions. So the general feeling for equal rights is already out there among the people, and the gubernatorial candidate gets out in front of that feeling--leading his people to a more progressive view.

A candidate for U.S. Senate from the same state, who represents the exact same people, aligns her position with the electorate: yes to civil unions, no to marriage.

You tell me which one is the true leader.

Today is great day for New York, and a great day for equal rights. I have just tearfully watched the live webcast of the New York State Assembly's debate and vote and passage (!!!) of a bill that would provide equal marriage rights to all New Yorkers regardless of the sex of the two spouses. There were some very moving arguments in support of this measure. Assemblyman Charles Lavine from Long Island framed his argument as siding with The Enlightenment, and particularly with our country's founding fathers who were deeply influenced by the ideas of enlightenment and reason. Assemblyman Joseph Lentol from Williamsburg, Brooklyn spoke about religion and tradition. He described his Catholic upbringing, and he reminded the chamber of the values of protecting each other and helping one another. He chided those who would hide behind tradition, saying that such actions ring hollow and don't reflect well on the tradition that such action is attempting to defend. Assemblywoman Theresa Sayward from way upstate near Massachusetts spoke lovingly of her gay son, of the struggles he had to overcome in his life, of her own conflicted feelings (also as a Catholic), and how she came to accept and embrace this issue as her own. She earned a very heartfelt round of applause from her colleagues. One Assemblyman whose name I didn't catch, held up his cell phone and said "My partner just asked me to marry him. I said 'Yes.' And I vote affirmative on this legislation."

Of course, there were all the typical arguments against the issue--"history," "sanctity," etc.--but most of those rang false, sounded empty. Probably because they are empty arguments, but also because the people who spoke them seemed to not really believe those arguments themselves. It sounded hollow, apologetic. In fact, some of those voting no spoke of how conflicted they were, how much they appreciated the wonderfully personal stories offered by the other side, and even went so far as to apologize for their no vote. Good. They should apologize--they're on the wrong side of history.

When the vote was tallied and the passage announced, the Assembly burst into loud, sustained applause. It was simply wonderful.

Thumbs up to my own rep--Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who is the Assembly's only out lesbian, and who worked hard to ensure passage of this bill. She co-sponsored the bill and worked closely with Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell (yes, Rosie's brother!) who was the lead sponsor for the bill. (Thumbs up to him too, of course, though I thought his closing argument speech was way too long, and way too rambling...).

Big thumbs down to the Hillary Clintons, Barak Obamas, and John Edwards of the world--you and your empty belief in civil unions and the "sanctity" of keeping marriage exclusive are on the wrong side of history. You are no leaders.

And double thumbs up--way up--to Governor Spitzer who took a bold stand BEFORE being elected, and then followed through on it as promised. After we get the Dems back in power in the State Senate, I look forward to the day when my blog post can carry the wondrous title: GOVERNOR SPITZER SIGNS MARRIAGE EQUALITY INTO LAW.

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