Waiting On the World to Change

Posted by TERESA

After passing the NY State Assembly, the vote on marriage equality in New York State is going to the State Senate.  53% of New Yorkers are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.  Earlier today, I sent an email to my State Senator, George Onorato, asking him to support the new marriage bill, sort of assuming that I’d be preaching to the choir.  Imagine my disappointment when I received the following auto-reply from him (and it’s kind of sad that no one bothered to check his auto-reply for typos):

From: onorato@senate.state.ny.us

Thank you for your recent email expressing your support for same sex
marriage.  As you may be aware, although I have met with a number of
marriage equality advocates in Albany as well as the district, I am not in
support of the same sex marriage bill that has been proposed.
Throughout my career in the Senate, I have supported many initiatives of
importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,
including the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) and New York’s hate crimes law.  I am also in favor of the Dignity for All Students Act and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).  In addition, I have secured fudning for groups in my district serving the LGBT community and providing assistance for people with HIV and AIDS.
I sincerely respect your views, and I appreciate the time you took to
express your opinion on this issue.  Thank you agian for contacting me.

While I appreciate that he’s supported all of the above, he seems to be missing the point of this marriage bill.  How can you support a “Dignity for All Students” act, but treat adults in a less than dignified manner by allowing legal discrimination?

The bottom line is – this is a matter of rights according to the law.  The reason why “civil unions” aren’t good enough, is that there are these separate LEGAL things called “marriages” that offer more benefits and care for the partners involved.  Yet many people are determined to maintain the word “marriage” in a religious context, calling it “sacred.”  But there’s a difference between marriage in the state, and marriage in a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or temple.  It’s why, even when you get married in a church, you also have to sign a marriage LICENSE, otherwise it’s not legal.  Gay people should be allowed to get married because they are citizens, because they pay taxes, and because they are human beings.  Holding legal marriage to ONE religion’s definition is against everything this country stands for.  New York is part of the United States which, last time I checked, wasn’t a theocracy.

It’s disheartening that this particular state senator plans to vote against the wishes of the people he’s sworn to represent.  When I did more research into the senator, I discovered that he’s eighty-one years old!  He was born and raised in Astoria, and has been representing the area as a Democrat in the State Senate since 1983.   Considering that lengthy term of service, it pains me to say anything negative about him, as I have great respect for anyone who would not only choose public service as a career, but spend so much of their lives representing the place where they grew up.

And yet.

Gay marriage is a human rights issue, just as segregation was (remember those pesky miscegenation laws?), just as women’s rights were (and are).  People who are anti-gay marriage generally cite it as a moral issue.  To me, being on the wrong side of this issue by denying adult citizens the right to marry any other adult citizen they choose is an even graver moral trespass.  When I think of Senator Onorato, I can’t help but think of the John Mayer song, “Waiting on the World to Change”:

One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting, waiting
Waiting on the world to change

I’ve found myself saying a lot recently that my friends and I are getting to the age where we’re beginning to take over the world.  🙂  Not in the diabolical, cartoon-mad-scientist sense, but in the very real sense of moving up in our careers, becoming the taste and decision makers that shape things.  Every time I turn around, another friend or acquaintance of mine is in charge of some department, or has become a teacher and is shaping young minds, or has become an artist with the talent to sway the population.  So, I find myself thinking the sad, yet realistic thought that there won’t be any real change made on this front until there are more of us and less of the old guard.  It’s the way of the world, I suppose.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 5:11 PM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I completely agree with all of your thoughts and opinions on this. I just wanted to point out though that in addition to being disappointed by what his views on gay marriage are, I’m disappointed by the lack of proof reading done by whoever put together the form response!

    (I take it that you probably just copied and pasted the email, and didn’t retype it yourself…if you did retype it, I apologize, these are just minuscule typos on your part then. But if not…awesome.)

    “In addition, I have secured fudning for groups in my district…”

    “Thank you agian for contacting me.”

    Fudning? Agian? Small typos, but coming from a government office, it makes the senator look bad…

  2. Yes, I DID just cut and paste the email as-is. (you’ll notice that just before the email, I said “and it’s kind of sad that no one bothered to check his auto-reply for typos.” 🙂 Sheesh.

    BTW – if you want to send something to Senator Onorato as an Astoria resident, here’s the info:

    Astoria Office: 718-545-9706
    Albany Office: 518-455-3486

    Though, it would be awesome if you could send a handwritten note right away. Not as easily dismissable as an email:

    State Senator George Onorato
    28-11 Astoria Blvd/28 St.
    Long Island City, NY 11102

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