New Yorkers applaud Prop 8 decision

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Wednesday August 4, 2010

At least 200 people rallied in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, Aug. 4, after a federal court judge found California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

"Finally, California can be put back in the column it should be in-a state that has a commitment to equality and a commitment to making sure that all of their families are recognized and all of their families have equal rights," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "The courts got it right today."

Activist Yetta Kurland described the decision as "uplifting and amazing", while Anthony Brown, who attended the rally with his husband Gary Spino and their infant son Nicholas, categorized it as a "game-changer".

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker issued his ruling nearly nine months to the day the New York State Senate voted overwhelmingly against a measure that would have allowed gay and lesbian New Yorkers to marry.

"It is enormously helpful to all our efforts in New York and New Jersey and every other state in the country-to have the courts of California say that propositions and referendums and laws that deny our family recognition are discriminatory; that they are un-American," said Quinn. "It gives all of us another tool in our tool box as we head back up to Albany to get the state Senate to do the right thing."

Across the Hudson River, Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality noted similarities in California's domestic partnership law and his state's civil union statute. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied a motion late last month to hear a case on behalf of seven same-sex couples who challenged the state's ban on marriage for gays and lesbians. Goldstein stressed in a statement, however, Vaughn's decision only strengthens his organization's resolve to secure nuptials for same-sex couples in New Jersey.

"Like in California, we in New Jersey will put our state law on trial and we will win," said Goldstein. "Once and for all, we will throw New Jersey's civil union law into the dustbin of history's separate and unequal embarrassments."

Back in New York, those who attended the rally adjacent to the New York City Supreme Court on Centre Street put lawmakers on notice: support marriage for same-sex couples or else.

It's well past should have been, gonna be and it's gonna be soon-and we're only sending people to Albany who will vote for our rights," said gay state Sen. Tom Duane [D-Manhattan].

Mike DiSanto, who is challenging state Sen. Martin Golden [R-Brooklyn], and Charlie Ramos, who seeks to unseat incumbent state Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., [D-Bronx], both spoke at the rally. And although Darcee Bolf of the West Village conceded she felt "slightly terrified" about what the expected appeals process may bring, she said Vaughn's decision sends a powerful message.

"Hopefully people in Albany are listening to people in California," said Bolf.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.