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Where I Was When... (I Love NY)

It's easy to be cynical.

In the weeks leading up to this, I did my usual thing if asked about it: I displayed cynicism in a clumsy cloak of hope. This has happened before, you see. It's been pushed, it passes the Assembly, we get our hopes up, the Senate shoots it down, the pundits either rejoice or condemn, we wait a year or so and do it all over again.

People I know online who live outside this state, or this country sometimes asked me why it wouldn't pass here. After all, to the majority of the world, New York State is synomynous with New York City, so some never really learn that if it weren't for New York City, New York State would be more conservative than Texas. The Republicans here are not RINOs (Republican In Name Only), they're just as right-leaning for the most part as you'd find in Texas and Arizona.

So when it comes up that the deciding votes are held by two Republicans, one who's long been against gay marriage, and the other a Roman Catholic who got in on the Tea Party Express, well...

As I said, it's easy to be cynical. Though I used to calling it "betting on human nature".

I don't know if it says more about me or my country when I admit that when I read about all of the conferences, negotiations, and politicking to get the bill to the floor, I believed it was a stall tactic, that senators would force concessions only to vote no anyway, that it would all turn out to be some grand hoax. I watched a live broadcast of the senate floor on local TV, and watched the supporters stumble and pause through their remarks, and had to keep switching back to Netflix and episodes of Eureka to keep myself from getting pissed off. I said I called it betting on human nature, but it doesn't mean I like winning.

And then I glance over to see the undecided senator who voted against it before, and listen to his remarks, wait for the words that will justify my cynicism...

"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience. I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality." - Sen. Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie)

And then I feel hope, cloaked in clumsy cynicism. It could really happen, couldn't it? I don't want to watch, but I can't stop. I watch the parade of senators make their statements, some that inspire now, some that disappoint, but all expected, and then it comes to the Roman Catholic senator. It's looking like it's going to pass now, it might really happen, but as I listen to his words...

He says that he cannot deny anyone basic rights. "I apologize to those I offend, but I believe you can be wiser today than yesterday. I believe this state needs to provide equal rights and protections for all its residents." - Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo)

And in that moment I am shamed.

As I said, it's easy to be cynical. It's easy to hate, it's easy to make excuses, or fall back on platitudes and talking points to conceal pure self-service. It's easy to look at politicians today and think that people who vote their conscience instead of the party line only exist in the movies. It's easy to forget that when you bet on human nature, you're also betting on the innate compassion that gives us our humanity.

It passed 33-29, and was signed into law before midnight. I started crying then, I'm still crying now, even as I write this.

Thank you, New York. Thank you for seeing me as a human being.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
Amen. Every state that recognizes us brings us one step closer to forcing the federal issue.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )