Marriage equality

Yesterday, the New York State Assembly did something momentous. It passed the Marriage Equality Act, a piece of legislation which will grant same-sex couples the right to legally wed. If, that is, it’s also approved by the New York Senate and Governor Cuomo. The latter is practically a given since our esteemed gov has been pushing for it as part of his legislative agenda. (Remember that whole “People First” dog and pony show?)

New York isn’t the first state to consider this issue, of course. It’s already legal for same-sex couples to marry in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and, incredibly, Iowa. California has gone both ways on it, and the controversial matter is currently working its way through the judicial system.

I fall firmly in Cuomo’s corner on this debate. I’m all for same-sex marriage. If you looked at my voter registration card, you might find that surprising. I belong to the party which has been firmly on the anti-side of this debate.

I say pshaw to those who see this as a moral issue. I think most of us are past that by now. And what we’re talking about is a legal definition. The rights, benefits and protections awarded to a couple who has joined together. We’re not talking about what is or isn’t right in the eyes of God, the Church or whatever religious belief system to which you personally subscribe.

As for the sanctity of marriage, I think heterosexual couples have already done a number on that. I’m not going to look up the current divorce statistics because, frankly, they are too depressing. But to the best of my knowledge, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce court. And sadly, I think we all know people who have been down that same road more than once. It’s one of the reasons I myself have never been too eager to tie the knot.

On the other hand, there are couples like my parents, who celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary in May. Has every day of their marriage been champagne and strawberries? No. They’ve had their fair share of trials and tribulations, but their commitment to one another has never wavered. (Nor has there been a homicide, so I think they’re doing OK.)

I can think of many of my friends who have that same kind of commitment to their spouse/significant other. They are the ones I think have the kind of relationship it takes to truly go the distance together in life. I’ll be honest – not all of them are your traditional heterosexual couples. Quite a few of them are of the same-sex variety.

I think of my college friend Rob and his partner David, who just celebrated their 10th anniversary together with a trip to Greece and Italy. (I was so incredibly jealous. Their pictures were jaw-droppingly gorgeous.) They’ll probably first in line if marriage equality becomes a reality in New York State.

And there’s Mike and his husband Todd. Yes, husband. They got married in Canada close to a year ago. They live in California now, and because of them, I have more than a passing interest in the whole Proposition 8 drama.

I know these arguments probably aren’t enough to sway the Republicans in the New York State Senate, in whose hands this matter now lies. So let me put this in terms to which they can better relate: Marriage equality makes good economic sense.

We talk about the exodus of businesses and young people from New York State. Well, this could reverse that trend. If same-sex marriage becomes legal in this state, the Empire State will become a more attractive place for them to relocate, not just themselves, but their businesses.

Don’t believe me? Look at Iowa, which saw an influx in this area as soon as they started granting same-sex marriage licenses.

And if not economics, I appeal to your competitive spirit. Do we really want Iowa to be ahead of us in anything?

I urge our representatives in the NY Senate, regardless of their political affiliation, to vote for marriage equality when the matter comes before them in the coming days.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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