Hundreds gathered Thursday evening, near the place where the gay rights movement was born, to blast the high-court decision that New York’s constitution does not give gays and lesbians the right to marry.
“We are gonna win this battle,” a furious State Senator Tom Duane told the crowd, which spilled into Seventh Avenue. “A Court of Appeals that might have been OK in 1908 is not OK in this century.”
Couples pushing strollers and holding babies carried signs reading, “Why Can’t My Mommies Get Married?” and “It’s Our Children Who Want Us to Get Married,” seemingly to answer the court’s contention that heterosexual marriage may be better for kids. (Photo by Cary Conover below; slideshow here.)
A Who’s Who of politicians, clergy, and labor leaders joined Duane, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler, and Empire State Pride Agenda executive director Alan Van Capella in using the word inevitable to describe the destiny of gay marriage in New York.
Quinn also lambasted the “judges who couldn’t see their way to equality and justice,” and of civil-marriage opponents, she said, “We are more focused on what is morally correct than they will ever be.”
Two members of the power roster were conspicuously absent: Mayor Bloomberg and State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose attorneys argued against same-sex marriage in court, even though both have said they support legalizing it.
“You better use every goddamn ounce of political capital you have to get my right to marry,” Duane exhorted Bloomberg and Spitzer before challenging those present to come to Albany and lobby the legislature.
Duane and Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried are sponsoring the bill that, because of the court’s ruling, may be the only hope for gay and lesbian New Yorkers who want to wed.
The rally’s most moving moment came when Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay Democratic candidate for state attorney general, took the dais with his partner of 12 years and their adopted kids. He seemed to fight back tears as he said he wished to be able to send his kids to school knowing that their family had the same legal recognition as the other students’. He also promised couples that, if they choose to camp out at City Hall until they get a marriage license, he and his partner will join them. “We won’t leave until he get arrested or married,” he said.
The West Village rally was one of seven that Empire State Pride Agenda organized statewide Thursday. Others took place in Albany, Buffalo, White Plains, Bay Shore, Rochester, and Syracuse.