Associated Press photo
New York Gov. David Paterson, with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his right and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at his left, announces during a news conference today his desire that New York join other states that have adopted legalized same-sex marriage. Paterson invoked historical black civil rights leaders Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe in his argument that same-sex marriage rights are civil rights.
I’m used to some if not most prominent leaders of the black community, such as Jesse Jackson, vehemently denying that gay (and other non-heterosexual) rights are civil rights. They don’t want to share the victim-of-oppression pie with anyone else, very apparently.
An oft-used “argument” of theirs is that while blacks cannot conceal their race, and thus cannot protect themselves from racism, sexual orientation often if not usually can be concealed. I disagree; off the top of my head, I would estimate that at least half of non-heterosexuals are identifiable as such, and my counter-argument, of course, would be that no one should have to conceal his or her lack of heterosexuality.
And if we non-heterosexuals and blacks really want to have a fucking misery contest, I could point out that while non-heterosexuals very often are rejected by their own family members for being non-heterosexual, blacks aren’t rejected by their own black family members for being black.
One leader of the black community, who had gained national attention in 2004 after she lambasted president wannabe John Kerry for having stated his wish to be the “second” “‘black’ president” (after Bill Clinton), in a letter to me about solidarity among traditionally oppressed minority groups actually referred to homosexuality as possibly being “a birth defect.”
So it refreshing to have seen this news item today from The Associated Press:
[New York] Gov. David Paterson introduced a bill [today] to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, comparing the effort to the fight for the abolition of slavery.
Paterson … is making a political gamble that he can ride the momentum of other states that have recently allowed the practice, and it’s unclear how the legislation will play in New York.
The proposal is the same bill the Democratic-controlled state Assembly passed in 2007 before it died in the Senate, where the Republican majority kept it from going to a vote. Democrats now control the Senate, but opponents are vowing to make sure this one fails, as well.
Gay marriage is a crucial issue of equal rights in America that cannot be ignored, Paterson said. He was joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials, as well as gay rights advocates and his wife, Michelle.
“For too long, gay and lesbian New Yorkers — we have pretended they have the same rights as their neighbors and friends. That is not the case. All have been the victims of what is a legal system that has systematically discriminated against them.”
Paterson, who is black, framed the issue in sweeping terms, invoking Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe and drawing a parallel between the fight to eliminate slavery in the 1800s to the current effort to allow gay marriage.
“Rights should not be stifled by fear,” Paterson said. “What we should understand is that silence should not be a response to injustice. And that if we take not action, we will surely lose.”
Gay and lesbian couples are denied as many as 1,324 civil protections — such as health care and pension rights — because they cannot marry, Paterson said.
Quinn, who is openly lesbian, dared anyone to “tell me I deserve less” than the right to marry her partner.
“Look me in the eye and tell me that Kim and I aren’t a family, that we don’t struggle every day, that we don’t pay taxes, that we don’t work every day in this city. No one can look me or her in the eye and tell us that, because it is not true.”
At the same time Paterson was announcing his proposal, Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, also a Democrat but an opponent of same-sex marriage, met with religious leaders to discuss how to block the bill.
Diaz, an evangelical pastor, said his meeting in the Bronx was to inform Hispanics, Catholics, evangelicals and others opposed to same-sex marriage of their options to prevent the bill’s passage.
Diaz said it was disrespectful of Paterson to introduce the legislation in the same week that Catholics celebrated the installation of New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
[Memo to Diaz: we are not a theocracy, you motherfucking pope-ass-licking buttmunch. I am happy that no governor bows before the pope or some archbishop. That’s the way that our democracy, with its separation of church and state, is supposed to work, you pandering fucktard.]
… Paterson noted he was introducing the [same-sex marriage] proposal with “the winds at our back,” referring to the recent approval of same-sex marriage in Iowa and Vermont.
New York Democrats gained a 32-30 majority in November’s elections. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who did not attend [today’s] announcement, supports the measure but has said he doesn’t believe there are enough votes to pass it.
A Quinnipiac University poll this month showed that 41 percent of New York voters backed legalized same-sex marriage; that 33 percent favored civil unions; and that 19 percent wanted no legal recognition for such couples…
“Blacks don’t have my back,” I have declared before.
Well, at least one prominent black leader has my back, apparently, and I hope that more black leaders follow Paterson’s example.
We’re all in the struggle against the stupid (presumedly “Christian,” presumedly heterosexual) white man — and the stupid-white-male power structure that even some women, some non-whites and even some non-heterosexuals prop up — together.