When the Village erupted in protest 42 years ago next month, New York—and every other state in the union, save one—still had laws on the books that made same-sex relationships a crime. A couple could go to prison for years, just for being intimate in the privacy of their own home. For men and women of that era, an era many of us remember well, being in a gay relationship meant living in fear:
Fear of police harassment.
Fear of public humiliation
Fear of workplace discrimination.
Fear of physical violence.
Today, in some places, those fears still linger. But as a nation, we have come a long way since Stonewall. Today, two women in a committed relationship—who years ago would have hidden their relationship from family and friends—will instead take part in a wedding ceremony in front of their family and friends. Today, two men who are long-time partners—who years ago would never even have entertained the idea—will adopt a child and begin a family.... Today, a majority of Americans support marriage equality—and young people increasingly view marriage equality in much the same way as young people in the 1960s viewed civil rights. Eventually, as happened with civil rights for African-Americans, they will be a majority of voters. And they will pass laws that reflect their values and elect presidents who personify them.
It is not a matter of if—but when.
And the question for every New York State lawmaker is: Do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights? Or an obstructionist? On matters of freedom and equality, history has not remembered obstructionists kindly.
Not on abolition.
Not on women's suffrage.
Not on workers' rights.
Not on civil rights.
And it will be no different on marriage rights.
Via Savage Love, Mayor Bloomberg's recent speech on marriage equality (full speech here):