Today, we all have reason to celebrate. Last night, the New York state Senate passed the marriage equality bill, and Governor Cuomo signed it into law, giving same sex couples the right to marry in New York state.
It has been quite a week, for New York, for GLBT people across the country, for everyone who believes and supports true equality under the law, and for me personally.
This morning, many thousands are heading out to celebrate Gay Pride at festivals and parades. Here in St Pete, we hold the largest gay pride celebration in the state, with over fifty thousand attending annually.
I have been to the gay pride parade in Los Angeles, and to the one in Long Beach, and I have attended the one in St Pete, once renting a booth to sell books for Bywater.
Equal under the law. I will get married someday to my partner of almost eleven years. I want to get married when that marriage means that she will receive widow’s benefits from Social Security should I die before her, when she can receive my retirement benefits as my spouse, when she can make medical decisions for me as my spouse, when, absent a will, the state recognizes that my spouse legally inherits my estate, when we can file a joint federal tax return, when she can be covered by my health insurance.
I feel elated and excited and proud today. I am very happy for New York, for all those who worked so hard for the bill, for all those who will benefit from its passage.
I still live in the state of Florida. In this state, it is still okay to fire someone based on homosexuality. Here, my partner cannot receive my retirement pension of I die. Here, the governor and the legislature is concentrated on making it harder to get abortions, harder to vote, harder to get welfare. They are making things harder. They took money away from the education budget and out of state workers’ paychecks to fund huge give-aways to corporations.
But in New York today and across the country, we celebrate Pride Weekend with a little more real pride.
This weekend in June was chosen to celebrate gay pride because it is the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots. Inevitably, some people ask, why do you have to have a parade to celebrate who you are?
Today, I am leaving that question unanswered, because we have other, very real reasons to celebrate not just who we are, but what we have achieved.