New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage is a historic moment in time—not only for being the sixth and largest state to do so, but also for the irony it carries. On Friday, the New York Republican-controlled Senate approved the legislation in Albany with a 33-29 vote.
Drones of gay and lesbian citizens and their allies celebrated on the streets during the 2011 NYC Pride March on Sunday, waving the pride flag and signs reading, “Thank you, Governor Cuomo.” Cuomo played an integral part in passing the historic legislation, passionately advocating to lawmakers on behalf of same-sex supporters. The throng of celebrators fervently marched unlike they’ve ever done before.
Over forty years ago, however, such a blissful scenario was vacant. In its place was a city that championed laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians. In the 1960s, it was illegal for bars to sell alcohol to homosexuals, obliging them to socialize in illegal, mafia-owned establishments with unsanitary conditions. Openly gay men weren’t even allowed to become firefighters, let only be open at all. This was at a time when vigilantes innocuously attacked homosexuals walking the streets, deeming them weak and deserving of onslaught. Gays sought a place of refuge; somewhere they were safe, and unscathed from judgment or ridicule. Plain-clothed cops deceitfully posed as male decoys to tempt gay men in making sexual advancements, and arrested them for “soliciting” sex, otherwise known as entrapment.
Gay bars were regularly targeted and raided for no other reason than for being a “gay” bar. Life for gays and lesbians was far from blissful; they were harassed and lawfully unprotected. And unlike today, where Cuomo and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg used their political influence to fortify the livelihood of gays and lesbians, then-mayor Robert Wagner caused more aid than cease to the discrimination of homophiles.
It was not until the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that New York saw visible changes on the gay political front.
On June 28, 1969, a group of gay, lesbian and transgender citizens rioted outside the Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village after it was raided by NYPD cops. They had grown agitated by the unrelenting harassment from city cops and chauvinists. That riot sparked proponents to vigorously advocate equality for a minority inhumanely tormented. Over the next decade, the gay community won many political battles including Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society’s victory in convincing the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973, solidifying its place as a uniformed lifestyle, just as any other.
However, with the progression of this modern day civil rights movement, there will be obvious opponents: homophobes and religious proponents. However, New York’s legal triumph on same-sex marriage will undoubtedly set precedence for future legislation.
Polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Gallup showed that 56 percent of New Yorkers and 53 percent of Americans favored same-sex marriage—the highest approval in history. These numbers, and the political advancement of the gay civil rights movement suggests that most Americans no longer fall victim to the bigotry that historically plagued the homophile populace. The LGBT community is no threat to religious systems, or to the American household.
What one does in the comfort of his or her home should have no affect on one’s religious or personal convictions. These changing times will, hopefully, lead to a place of absolute humanity, where all are allowed to love whomever they please — and the legal rights that come with it — exempt from violence, hate and all ridicule.