It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year. Steven Thrasher of The Village Voice recalls the vote and its impact.
But the real turning point of the night was when Republican Stephen Saland, who had been publicly undecided for weeks, spoke and announced, with no one knowing what he was going to say, that his vote would be for marriage equality.
And then, it happened: the vote was taken and the bill passed. Down the row from us, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage put his head in his hands and wept. But it was hard to pay too much attention to that, as the chamber was erupting in cheers, laughter, tears, hugs, and the unexpected chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
A year later, much has changed in the battle for gay marriage and gay rights. “Gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” has largely just become part of marriage in New York State. Speaker Quinn didn’t get lesbian married — she just got hitched like any other bride. President Obama is now onboard for marriage, a position he awkwardly hadn’t taken on this date last year (nor while he was hauling cash in NYC the night before). Governor’s Cuomo’s control and discipline with the legislative process, lauded for the freshman governor last year during the fight for marriage, is now met with far more skepticism, especially by the left. Senator Alesi is not running for re-election (more due to an unfortunate incident of him unwisely suing a constituent rather than anything to do with gay marriage). The marriage debate has been settled in New York and is moving nationally, with even one-time opponents to equality changing their mind.
But on June 24, 2011, it was a perfect day for this reporter to watch, after covering the fight for equality for years, as the state finally made it so that legally, in terms of civil marriage under New York State law, LGBT New Yorkers were equal citizens.