Advocates for marriage equality suffered a devastating defeat in 2009, when efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York fell eight votes short in the Senate after receiving strong support in the state’s Assembly.
Many may recall Senator Diane Savino’s powerful and heart wrenching testimony in defense of gay marriage prior to the bill’s defeat, stating for all to hear that “we have nothing to fear from love and commitment.”
“If there’s anybody threatening the sanctity of marriage,” Savino said, “it comes from those who have the privilege and the right, and we have abused it for decades.”
A renewed fight to grant marriage equality has resurfaced in New York, stronger than ever. And this time, it may have larger ramifications for the country and the world.
“A win in New York will provide significant momentum for the movement nationally and, quite frankly, internationally,” says Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign. “New York is very significant.”
Why has the landscape changed so drastically in less than two years?
This time, it’s personal.
The true-life stories of decent men and women who have suffered first-hand the inequality of being denied the right to marry the person they love has struck a chord with citizens both in New York and across the country, resulting in many to switch sides.
“That debate has been replicated hundreds and thousands of times over the Internet, emails and coffee klatches and over glasses of wine in New York’s suburbs that has rapidly changed – at an accelerated pace – public opinion.” says Bruce Gyrory, a political science professor at the University of Albany.
Even populations traditionally seen as reliably conservative, such as Catholics, have seen rising support for marriage equality.
Support for marriage has dramatically increased in New York, reaching as high as 58% in a recent poll. “I think at the point you cross 60 percent and approach 2:1 levels of support, the opposition loses its critical mass,” says Gyory.
And as overwhelming support among younger generations continues to make its mark, the realization that this fight is close to a tipping point has begun to dawn.
Law firm King & Spalding, who signed on defend the now defenseless DOMA on behalf of House Republicans, dropped a bomb earlier this week when it abruptly withdrew from the case. Reports of internal conflict and “mayhem” were rampant. “Management was divided, people were threatening to quit,” said one source.
Prior to King & Spalding’s exit, the response from the LGBT community had been strong and forceful. And while DOMA has already recruited fresh defenders in the wake of its latest setback, don’t expect public support to be on their side anymore.
In its latest episode, “Glee” reached new heights of fabulous when its cast belted out Lady Gaga’s gay pride anthem “Born This Way.” It depicted a high school coming together in a defining moment of unity.
Having already called the show a “disgusting gay teen sex romp”, Dan Gainor, a conservative media critic, was less than pleased, panning the show’s creator Ryan Murphy and calling the episode his “latest depraved initiative to promote his gay agenda.”
“This is clearly Ryay Murphy’s vision of what growing up should be, not most of America’s. It’s a high school most parents would not want to send their kids to.”
Hate to break it to you, Mr. Gainor, but you’re dead wrong. Your words have lost their power to persuade. Your hateful rhetoric no longer has a place in a country that is turning increasingly towards love and fairness.