I feel surprisingly happy about the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in New York state. While I still have questions about why we want this institution to define and validate our homosexual relationships, I’m fascinated at the possibilities that seem to unfold as a result of this new law.
My boyfriend and I watched the final moments of the debate on the Senate floor last evening, then watched the vote, kind of by accident, as we channel surfed looking at other programs on television. Of course, the commentary following the vote was full of rhetoric and interviews with people spouting unrealistic expectations on the streets of New York City. Yes, marriage equality has arrived, but the legislation doesn’t automatically change the feelings of people who still discriminate against or “tolerate” LGBT people. For example, as quoted by CNN.com, the delightful Catholic bishops of New York had the following to say:
“‘We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization,’ the state’s Catholic bishops said in a joint statement released late Friday. It was signed by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and seven other bishops.”
That’s the pot calling the kettle black, people. An institution rife with scandal for centuries talking about the cornerstones of civilization. I love the irony of these guys who wear the fancy robes and the big hats thinking that they have the special 4-1-1 Bat Phone to Jesus.
But this is what I mean about banging the tambourine a little early. Marriage equality is one step forward among many steps that need to be taken on the road to equality for LGBT people. I know that it’s a big step, but we can’t assume that the world can now be viewed through rose-colored glasses. We’ve got work to do in our communities, particularly in our schools, and the way that we “teach tolerance.” I don’t like being “tolerated.” Accepted and embraced as fully equal is more up my alley. So let’s use marriage equality as a step towards true, full change in our society. If I see that happen in my lifetime, I’ll join the celebration. Fully.