Sunday, July 24, 2011

N.Y. Marriage Equality Becomes Reality As Courts Open Arms Sunday

As of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, July 24, same-sex marriage becomes a reality in the nation's largest state. New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.—oh, and let's not forget the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon.

New York City will open marriage bureaus in all five boroughs Sunday. It had originally capped the number of marriages to 764 couples—later deciding to accept all 823 applicants, gay & straight. The Empire State Pride Agenda has printed 1,500 blue "Just Married" sashes to hand out across the state to celebrate marriage equality.

"It's going to be a day of joyousness and celebration," said Erica Pelletreau, spokeswoman for the Pride Agenda. "This is something we've been waiting decades for in this state: the same rights that heterosexual couples and families have."

As much as I complain about the iron fist of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I must hand it to him this time. Alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he was a staunch, vocal advocate of the cause. Bloomberg will be officiating the Sunday marriage ceremony of his chief policy adviser, John Feinblatt, and Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Jonathan Mintz.

Saturday morning he told CBS News, "America's great strengths include the fact that we treat everybody equally and don't impose our religion on anybody else. Everybody should have the right to get married, and every religion should have the right to decide what's appropriate. I'm very proud of the state."

Bloomberg added that he believes marriage equality is a sentiment that is growing nationwide: "It's just not the government's business to get involved in your personal life unless there's some overriding compelling public policy purpose. And there's not."

Meanwhile, in Maryland, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Friday that he will make legalizing same-sex marriage a top priority in the 2012 legislative session. Legislation passed the Maryland Senate this year, but stalled in the House.

And let's not forget that it appears Republicans have finally run out of excuses to stay the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. It is expected to join the long line of irrelevant prejudicial laws in September.

As significant, President Obama has voiced support for the "Respect For Marriage Act," a bill designed to repeal the horrific 1996 Defense Of Marriage Act, which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage even for couples married under state law. A White House spokesman told reporters Tuesday that the prez "is proud to support" the Act.

Let this beautiful momentum toward equality for all Americans continue to move forward: 2011 is indeed a banner year.