Over the weekend, I enjoyed two Brooklyn Pride parties and joined Babeland to march in the Brooklyn Pride Parade. This month is Gay Pride Month in NYC, with the big 2011 NYC Gay Pride March taking place in Manhattan on Sunday the 26th. While all of these parties and festivities are always exciting and much anticipated, adding to the energy this year is the fast approaching June 20th deadline on the vote for marriage equality in NY.
Governor Andrew Cuomo believes that though the bill was defeated in 2009, this year there are enough votes to pass the right to marry measure, with four more votes of support announced Monday June 13th after a closed door meeting as reported by Gay City News. Though the NY State Assembly has successfully passed marriage equality legislation on three occasions, a lack of bi-partisan agreement has hindered the Senate from doing so.
Currently five states ““ Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont as well as the District of Columbia ““ have marriage equality legislation on the books ensuring the right to marriage and the accompanying benefits for LGBT folks. For the down and dirty on why this matters, here are some of the reasons provided by Marriage Equality USA:
- In times of crisis, spouses have hospital visitation rights and can make medical decisions in event of illness or disability of their spouse.
- Employers offer spouses sick leave, bereavement leave, access to health insurance and pension.
- The law provides certain automatic rights to a person’s spouse regardless of whether or not a will exists.
- Married couples in elderly care facilities are generally not separated unless one spouse’s health dictates hospitalization or special care.
- The dissolution of a marriage requires a determination of property distribution, award of child custody and support and spousal support. Absent divorce, there is no uniform system for sorting out the ending of a relationship.
Two other organizations working to make marriage equality a reality in addition to Marriage Equality USA are the National Center for Lesbian Rights as well as GetEQUAL. In an editorial piece published yesterday currently making the rounds as the top e-mailed story for the New York Times, the paper urges the four Republican senators who have yet to make a stand for equality to step forward and support the legislation.
Arguments pointing to the reigning failure that is monogamy and the embarrassingly high divorce rate don’t negate the need to work for marriage equality. The bottom line remains: until two consenting gay partners are valued as equal in the right to marriage, society respecting and protecting their other basic rights are also in jeopardy.