I am truly excited to be attending my first same-sex wedding this Saturday, when our former Editor-in-Chief Dan Hendrick marries Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. I have known both of them for about 10 years and wish them all the best in their future together.
This event would not be possible without the support of our governor, Andrew Cuomo. I marveled at his political skills last year when he was able to get the legislation passed in the Republican-controlled state Senate. First, he got three Democrats — Joe Addabbo Jr., Shirley Huntley and Carl Kruger, all of whom opposed the same-sex marriage bill in 2009, to switch from no to yes votes. He then convinced four Republicans — Stephen Saland, Roy McDonald, Jim Alesi and Mark Grisanti to support the legislation. The final vote was 33-29 in support of same-sex marriage. Only two years earlier, former Gov. David Paterson could not achieve this with a Democratic majority in the state Senate.
Dan and Jimmy could have gone to Massachusetts or one of the other states that had legalized it earlier, but wanted to wait until it was legal in their home state.
Readers of the Queens Chronicle know that we have supported same-sex marriage. We have written editorials in support of the legislation for the past five years.
A few months back, The New York Times ran a story about support for gay marriage. They found that the more heterosexual people had contact with gay individuals, the more likely they were to support it. The relationships cited included those with gay family members, friends, colleagues or coworkers. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, certainly considered a leader of the conservative movement in the United States, is a strong supporter of gay marriage. I am sure that is because his daughter Mary is gay.
According to recent surveys, the country is split on support for same-sex marriage. Fifty percent of adults support it and 45 percent are opposed. Those numbers show a dramatic improvement compared to 15 years ago, when close to 70 percent were opposed and less than 30 percent approved.
Over the years I have had many gay employees, colleagues and friends. It was natural for me to be supportive of the legislation. I have observed Jimmy and Dan’s relationship over the years and see how it is just as loving and supportive as my marriage to my wife, Kim.
I believe that the most important phrase in the Declaration of Independence is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Thomas Jefferson was surely not thinking about same-sex marriage when this was written. But I do think the phrase should apply to all gay individuals. If their pursuit of happiness is getting married, then why not allow it?
I understand many religions do not recognize it and respect their point of view. That is why when the Chronicle supported the legislation we also supported religious exemptions so that clergy opposed to it would not be forced to perform these ceremonies or be held liable in court.
After the legislation passed last year, I had a conversation with Sen. Addabbo about it.
I mentioned that when we were kids, some states still did not allow blacks and whites to marry each other. Today that premise would be inconceivable.
Addabbo and I both have two children, with the older one being eight years old. I said to him that I bet when our kids are our age they will look back and say, “Do you believe when we were born, gay individuals were not allowed to get married?”