On Sunday July 24th 2011, all across the great state of New York, hundreds of same sex couples pledged their love to one another by becoming the first of many to exchange wedding vows as New York became the sixth state to legalize same sex marriage.
Brides, grooms, family, friends, supporters and several Government officials joined in to take part in the events of the historical day. In Manhattan, New York’s Governor Cuomo hosted a party of same sex marriage advocates and New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg presided over a same sex wedding ceremony at the Gracie Mansion.
The historical implications of the day were brought to reality during the late hours of June 24th 2011 when the New York Senate voted in support of legalized same sex marriage. New York became the largest state to adopt a marriage equality bill which doubled the number of Americans living in states where gay and lesbian couples are permitted to wed.
Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry stated on June 27th,
“Having New York end marriage discrimination is a turning point for the country.”
It is important to make note that New York’s legislature successfully passed its marriage equality bill without first passing civil unions or domestic partnership laws.
Governor Cuomo declared to all US lawmakers that they should take notice of the marriage equality success in New York. Cuomo stated:
“New York gives us the credibility to say to every State, every State legislature, every State governor, why not marriage? Just tell me. What is the rational reason for discriminating against gay people? Just give me a rational answer. And they can’t,”
Not everyone shares Governor Cuomo’s viewpoint and protest against the new law were held throughout the state. In Midtown Manhattan protestors carrying signs saying “God cannot be mocked” called out for a vote by the people on same sex marriage.
In other cities like Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, protesters could be heard chanting “Let the people vote”
The anti gay group National Organization for Marriage and other religious organizations assisted in organizing these protest rallies. Participants could be seen praying aloud and singing hymns while clutching their Bibles.
In Buffalo, Reverend Gillison from Mt Olive Baptist Church shared his indignation towards the New York legislatures who voted in support of same sex marriage claiming it is an issue that should be voted on by the people.
“A handful of legislators paid no attention to millions of New Yorkers. We are upset because you violated our law that is older and greater than New York.”
Protesters in Rochester also denounced the new law claiming it violates biblical law.
Retaliation against the legislatures who voted in support of the new law was also declared during many of the protests. In Albany speakers encouraged the crowd to remain vigilant and to persuade “People who love God” to run for public office in pursuit of unseating any lawmaker who they believe violated traditional marriage by voting in support of same sex marriage.
For the most part the protests went without incident and failed to make any significant damage to the proceedings of the day. Hundreds of same sex couples successfully exchanged their wedding vows as the whole world witnessed the momentous advancement in marriage equality.
Nothing proclaimed by the protesters presented anything new or revolutionary. They voiced out the same abusive and demoralizing anti-gay rhetoric, quoting religious passages demonizing the LGBTQ community that has been used throughout the years, none of which can been proven as justified or fact. The modern gay rights movement has successfully battled against these allegations of the “so called” potential negative impact on society that would develop if marriage equality was permitted and New York’s new law is a testament to the endurance the movement possesses.
Many believe the tide is changing when it comes to gay rights and marriage equality in America. As New York’s marriage equality bill passed with bipartisan support of both Republicans and Democrats there may be truth to the belief that a shift in the political climate has advanced. New York is poised to be a leader of this change.
Governor Cuomo stated back in June shortly after signing the bill into law.
“New York made a powerful statement, not just for the people of New York, but the people all across this nation.”
Several other states, such as New Jersey and Maryland are now examining closely at the significant efforts achieved in New York as they work towards passing a similar marriage equality bill.