Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Good comment on New York’s passing gay marriage law

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From Glenn Greenwald’s column today. (Greenwald is himself gay, and lives now in Argentina.)

My reaction to last night’s enactment of same-sex marriage by the New York State legislature is more personal than political, so I’ll defer to Andrew Sullivan — one of the nation’s earliest advocates of gay marriage — to explain its significance.  But I can’t let this rare genuine political progress go unmentioned, so I will share one reaction:  in 1991, when I was a first-year law student at NYU, I regularly attended, for about a year, meetings and demonstrations of ACT-UP.  I was a passive observer, but very impressed and inspired by the unyielding refusal of gay men with AIDS in that era (in indispensable conjunction with lesbian activists) to passively accept their consigned fate and their status as marginalized, condemned outcasts: the expertise in politics and medicine they developed, the creative and brave civil disobedience they pioneered, and the force of collective will they mustered under the most trying of circumstances was nothing short of extraordinary.

The first meeting I ever went to was attended by Tom Duane, who spoke to the group.  At the time, Duane was seeking to become not only the first openly gay man elected to the New York City Council, but one of the first openly HIV-positive candidates to be elected to any political office.  Remarkably, Duane won, went on to be elected to the State Senate in 1998, and last night — 20 years older and now a veteran establishment Democratic lawmaker in Albany — he was at the emotional center of that vote.  It’s hard to describe how inconceivable such an event was back in 1991 — it was barely the end of the Reagan era, when “gay” and “AIDS” were still unmentionable in much decent company and much of gay activism was more about finding a way to survive (literally) than anything else — but the fact that this amazingly improbable event just happened should (like the events in the Middle East) serve as a potent antidote against defeatism.  Significant and seemingly impossible social and political change happens more often than we think, and it happens more rapidly than we realize.  Even the most momentous change is always possible if one finds the right way to make it happen.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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