From the man who brought you Slick Rick’s pardon, comes another legislative firecracker. Gov. David Paterson surprised his colleagues last week when he announced he was going to introduce a bill that would end discrimination against same-sex couples in NYC without knowing for certain whether or not the bill would pass. In fact, it appears that it will not…unless we the constituents let our representatives know that New York State is ready to join Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada, Spain, South Africa and other places that have yet to spontaneously combust due to an uptick in committed loving relationships.
The democrats have a small majority in the State Senate, and with four dems on record saying that they will oppose the bill, it’s going to be hard to get this bill passed. The most outspoken of these sissies is Ruben Diaz Sr. from the Bronx, a perennial blowhard short on ideas and long on hatemongering…or fear, or weakness, whatever you want to call it, he sucks. You may remember him from his outrage over the Gay Games in 1994, claiming that they would lead to a rise in AIDS cases. His defense, after being criticized for his ignorance and homophobia was that his remarks reflected his religious beliefs. FYI he’s a Pentecostal minister. Why do we let our representatives drag the institution of religion through the mud? Why do we let them use it as an excuse for their own personal hatred? No one is without some prejudices, but dammit Diaz, just own your homophobia! Don’t tell us you’re a bigot because not being a bigot conflicts with your religious views. That’s not fair to people who have somehow managed to be religious and not discriminate against those unlike themselves.
Diaz should take a lesson from Hillel’s teaching: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That’s the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go study it!” Sheldon Silver, an Orthodox Jew and the Speaker of the New York State Assembly knows ’bout it. He’s on record saying that he will vote for the bill. And it’s not like Orthodox Judasim is traditionally progressive on this topic. Kudos to Silver for that. And if that Hillel anecdote doesn’t sufficiantly sum up Diaz’s hypocrisy, then a lesson from a different Rabbi might further illuminate the subject in clergy to clergy terminology. Rabbi Saks (my pops) can explain to the Reverend why he is the Sodomite in this here saga.
As I plan for my own wedding, I am particularly aware of what an embarrassment and tragedy it is for our city to be stuck in a darker era when civil rights needed to be debated before people could be convinced they were important. Good for Paterson for forcing the issue and not waiting until this was a safe move or a sure deal. Make them say which side they are on by forcing the haters out of the closet. Brandish their resumes with the word ‘discriminator’ so a few years from now, after this bill has been passed (since it’s obvious it will be soon enough,) these Senators and Assemblymen will have to answer for their vote. My wedding would have been illegal in this country just 42 years ago. And if I had been alive then that would make me furious. But I wasn’t. I’m alive now, and I’m furious anyway.
“For too long, LGBT New Yorkers have been told to wait for their civil rights and personal freedom. We will not wait any longer. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for leadership. Now is the time to march forward together.” -Gov. David Paterson
Here are the names and contact info for the Democrats who have thus far said they will oppose this bill. Let them know we’re paying attention and aren’t impressed:
Ruben Diaz Sr. (Bronx): (718) 991-3161 firstname.lastname@example.org
Darrel Aubertine (Watertown): (315) 782-3418 email@example.com
William Stachowski (Buffalo): (716) 826-3344 firstname.lastname@example.org
David Valesky (Syracuse): (315) 478-8745 email@example.com
UPDATE: I wrote this a couple days ago and as of last night Paterson has backpedaled. He now says that he will follow the advise of fellow bill supporter State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
and wait until they are sure the bill would pass to submit it. Perhaps that is wise in some strategic sense, but I preferred Paterson’s initial argument that some issues need to be forced and that this one has waited long enough.
In other news…In about 30 minutes, Kevin (DeLeon’s bassist) is going to pick me up and we’re going to head down to West Virginia in an RV!