Hundreds of protesters came to Union Square north, at the behest of Marriage Equality New York (MENY), Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), Judson Memorial Church, and other organizations, on December 3, to rally against the New York State Senate's vote the previous day defeating, by a vote of 38 to 24, a bill that would have permitted same-sex couples to marry, and to hear more than a dozen speakers who supported the bill, including New York State Governor David A. Paterson.
photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
NYS Governor David A. Paterson addresses Union Square Rally
"We fight on. We don't give up. We don't get dismayed by the unfortunate incident that occurred yesterday," Governor Paterson urged, against the backdrop of a banner reading, "Equal justice under the law." Citing the Dred Scott decision of 1857 concerning slavery, he declared, "The hardest times bring up the greatest leadership," and continued, "Keep fighting. Keep the pressure on. Keep the light flickering for justice in this state."
Openly gay State Senator Tom Duane, a sponsor of the bill, from Manhattan, delivered a fiery address, beginning, "I'm angry at the betrayal of people who are supposed to be standing up for our civil rights. The Democrats failed us in the Senate. Not one Republican voted for our right to be married," which inspired the crowd's chants of "Vote them out!" and "Shame!" His colleague from Manhattan, Senator Liz Kruger said, "I'm mad that eight Democrats voted no, but all 30 Republicans voted no ... We now know who needs to be educated." She added, "None of my Republican colleagues who voted no could explain why."
The bill had passed in the State Assembly, by a vote of 86 to51, earlier in the day of the Senate vote. Openly lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, addressing the protesters, said, "Do not lose heart, do not be discouraged ... We will win. We will succeed. We have history on our side. The good thing about the vote yesterday is we know who the enemy is." Her colleague Assemblymember Michael Kellner said, "We're here today because people lack courage," and concluded, " I look forward to going to so many people's weddings and I don't want to wait another year."
Openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn spoke of her and her partner, Kim's fathers, both 83 years old, whom they hoped would get to see them wed. (Both women were teenagers when they lost their mothers.) Said Quinn, "I'm going to honor [my father] by fighting and fighting and fighting until we win ... This will happen soon and my father will get to dance at that wedding."
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who was the evening's first speaker, asserted, "This must be the number one issue in this state and in this country." Public Advocate Bill de Blasio quoted the labor slogan, "Don't mourn-organize" and added, "History tells us we will prevail."
MENY Board President Cathy Marino-Thomas introduced her wife, Sheila Marino-Thomas, and their 10-year-old daughter, Jackie, and they led a chant of, "What do we want? Equal rights. When do we want them? Now!" Cathy Marino-Thomas also mentioned the names of all the Senators who voted in our favor. MENY Executive Director Ron Zacchi announced the formation of ACT-NOW, a new group, which will advocate civil disobedience for marriage equality.
Protesters bearing signs that read, "Marriage now," "Equality for all families," and "Another straight New Yorker for marriage equality," and sporting stickers or buttons that read, "'I do' support marriage equality," also heard from Gary and from Anthony, who had their newborn son, Nicholas, bundled up in his coat to shelter him from the evening chill, and said, "We're a family whatever the law says," and from Regina Calcaterra, who will be running against Republican Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, from Long Island, and exclaimed, "I am running against a Senator who failed to explain his vote, because his vote is inexplicable."