On Dec. 1 the D.C. Council voted 11-2 to pass same-sex marriage legislation, the first of three steps that could allow gay couples to marry in the nation's capital. A second vote, scheduled in two weeks, is needed for same-sex marriage to become law. According to a Washington Post article, the bill's sponsors said final passage is almost certain, although the bill could be tweaked, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has said he will sign it. The ACLU Insider will follow this issue closely as the D.C. bill moves to the second stage of voting.
Despite optimism in D.C., however, the New York State Senate shot down same-sex legislation the day after, making the vote in two weeks even more crucial for gay rights advocates. Here are three positive speakers who were memorable among a large group of impressive proponents.
1. Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson - "A Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, spoke publicly for the first time about her gay brother, who was shunned by her family and moved to France." She said that her district was split on the issue, but they elected her to be a leader and as such, she had to vote yes.
2. Sen. Diane Savino - a roman catholic, Italian-American, from Staten Island, who was articulate, moving, and quite funny. Watch her speech. She said that she looked to Sen. Duane and his partner as a model for a committed couple, and that she herself had failed to ever fulfill that kind of loving relationship in her failed marriages. If anyone screwed up marriage, it was not the gays but us, she said.
3. Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. - from a neighboring district to Ruben Diaz and another Puerto Rican. His description of why he voted yes, notwithstanding the opposition in his district, was quite moving.
It's worth noting that the large majority of the black caucus voted yes. Several African American members gave impassioned speeches about equality and the need to recognize inequality experienced by other minority groups. Many remarked on the fact that the leader of the senate - an African American woman - could not have had that position but for the civil rights advances in this country. One black Senator talked about his gay staffer, his partner, and their newborn twins. The history of inequality in this country was reviewed in detail by African American, female and Jewish senators. It was an impressive set of remarks, even if the end result was terribly disappointing.
John Knight contributed to this post.