No Vassar Chapel for us
Looks like my pipe dream of marrying my guy at Vassar College’s non-denominational chapel is out, at least for the near future.
The Democrats in the New York State Senate have used marriage rights as a bargaining chip to get three of its own members in line, according to The New York Times. As they put it yesterday (emphasis mine):
Three dissident Democrats agreed on Thursday to join with their colleagues in the State Senate to make Malcolm A. Smith the chamber’s first Democratic leader in more than 40 years, capping weeks of high-stakes wrangling with a deal that requires Mr. Smith to turn over considerable power to the three men…
(Senator Ruben Díaz Sr. of the Bronx) is slated to become chairman of the Senate committee on aging. More important, said people involved in the negotiations, Mr. Díaz is now confident that there will be no vote in the Senate next year on legislation to legalize gay marriage, something which most Senate Democrats support but which Mr. Diaz strongly opposes.
To add insult to injury, another of the “rogue” Senators made a comment full of irony that I sincerely hope I’m not the only one to see:
(Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr.) called the agreement “one step in the right direction” toward empowering Hispanics in state politics.
I have trouble understanding how anyone can believe it’s okay to use one group’s civil rights as a wedge for the power of another. While I won’t deny that racism is an extraordinarily strong force in our country, at least racial groups are legally protected. Using that very force of legislation to hold us back is petty, cruel, and astoundingly hypocritical of self-proclaimed champions of another minority.
The only explanation I can fathom is that these three men really, truly believe the LGBT community is just a collection of weirdos, contrarians, and deviants who have no right to equal treatment in personal interactions or under the law. You’d think Mr. Espada would realize that, while they are fewer than before, a number of people still think of him too as wanting “special rights.”
An article over at The Advocate took a closer look at the issue. They quoted Alan Van Capelle, head of Empire State Pride Agenda, as saying that so far, this is all only a “rumor.” But I would note that it’s one with a strong historical precedence and, in my opinion, a ring of truth.
To end on a positive note, it’s important to realize that at least some people are promising to fight on. From the Times:
“All civil rights movements have moments where they move forward, and moments of perceived setbacks,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell of Manhattan. “If in fact our civil rights were bargained away, that’s deplorable. But in the end, I think justice and fairness will prevail.”
I’m generally an optimist, and I agree with Mr. O’Donnell. I just wish we could have made a bit more progress by the time I’m approaching an appropriate and realistic marrying age…