Monday, June 27, 2011

Marriage Equality Comes to NY State

Last week, New York became the largest and latest state to embrace marriage for same-sex couples. All New Yorkers should be proud.

Marriage Equality's Economic and Moral Imperative

Denying marriage's legal benefits to those who's life partner is of the same gender as themselves was always morally indefensible. Inheritance rights alone represent a sufficiently powerful benefit to married couples that refusing to allow an entire class of couples to marry has been the practical equivalent of shifting wealth away from the would-be spouses in same-sex couples to other people.

As we stated in 2009:
Legalizing same sex marriage makes us all better. It continues the march to greater personal equality and freedom that our country has undertaken - from slavery to Jim Crow, women's suffrage, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, to today. 
Beyond the moral imperative of marriage equality, New York State and New York City will benefit enormously from the economic opportunity created by embracing marriage equality.

Once again, we addresses this thought in 2009:

City Comptroller Bill Thompson produced a report in 2007 that attempted to estimate the economic impact of legalizing same sex marriage. His analysis suggested that New York State would benefit from approximately $250 million of economic activity over three years simply from the weddings that would take place in the state after the legalization of same sex marriage. He also estimated that $175 million of the $250 million would be economic activity benefiting New York City.

Many couples living in New York City would take advantage of the new law and begin planning weddings, while both New York City and New York State would benefit from out-of-state couples coming to New York for their weddings. New York's hotels and banquet halls would see increased activity. The sooner New York State acts, the greater the benefit, as the lack of equivalent opportunities in neighboring states will increased the economic activity in New York State in the near term. Longer term, we'd expect neighboring states to follow our lead and provide equal rights to their residents irrespective of sexual orientation.

The economic opportunity is likely larger now than (now former) Comptroller Thompson estimated in 2007, and our city and our state both need the economic boost. The decision to end the discrimination against same-sex couples will make us not only happier but also wealthier.

NYPD Attack the Celebrants

Unfortunately, our city's police department chose the time of the celebration of the great victory of marriage equality over discrimination to raid a gay bar.

Mayor Bloomberg lobbied for marriage equality, but the NYPD seems unable to allow the historic celebrations to move forward without interference. The Mayor needs to tell the NYPD that, though he and they agree that people of color should be harassed aggressively in their neighborhoods, the Mayor, as the boss, is not seeking to have homosexual New Yorkers targeted by the NYPD, especially during the celebration of a major legislative victory.

The Proponents and the Opponents

We congratulate Governor Cuomo on leading a disciplined and street smart battle for marriage equality. We congratulate the New York Civil Liberties Union and all of the parts of the successful coalition.

We have noticed that our city's Archbishop was disheartened by the success of the marriage equality coalition, and we re-emphasize that there is no excuse for our city's religious leaders to promote discrimination. The religious community opposed equal rights for non-white residents of our country, opposed women's suffrage, and continues to view its support for discrimination against homosexuals as an important part of its identity.

Until the religious leadership in our city moves away from its focus on finding ways to support and promote discrimination, that leadership will continue to lose these defining battles of our time. If those leaders will begin to oppose discrimination, they will be embraced, and they will improve lives here on earth.


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