My girlfriend and I want to get married. Only thing is: it's not legal in NY State, where we live. So we started doing everything we could think of to reverse that. Including going up to Albany this past spring with two of our politico friends to speak to some Senators -- Democratic and Republican -- who were on the fence on the issue.
Wednesday's No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding... Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding... Montauk Beach wedding -- you fill in the blank -- goodbye. But we have two things today we didn't have yesterday.
The first thing we have is clarity about who's with us and who's against us. And we'll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.
The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce.
Our gang of four met with her last spring and she explained to us in depth, over a long and respectful meeting why she thought she was going to vote no on gay marriage. Senator Hassell-Thompson is deeply religious. She felt strongly that marriage always has been and always should be the union between a man and a woman.
But she is a careful, thoughtful person and you could see her weighing the issue again and again in her mind. And in her considering she stumbled across something in her personal experience that began to change her perspective.
She spoke about how her mother had been a deacon in their church at a time when previously only men had been deacons. And how controversial that had been. And how vehemently many people opposed her mother's appointment. And how none of those opposed could give any explanation for why her mother becoming a deacon was wrong, just that it was. Because it was new. Because it was shocking. Because it was an idea that took people a little time to get used to.
On Wednesday Ruth Hassell-Thompson voted yes.
She voted yes because gay people and straight people walked through her door in droves and wrote her letters and called her on the phone. And because she is a person of conscience. And because of one more thing that she didn't tell us in her office that day: because she has a brother who is gay.
I think of Ruth Hassell-Thompson and understand that citizen lobbying is important. So is getting involved with campaigns. So is contributing money. So is talking to your neighbors, and co-workers and family. More important than ever.
Because you never know when a simple conversation can help change someone's heart and mind. Because if we keep at it "they" will finally realize that we're just people like them. Because time is on our side.
Meantime, there's always Connecticut.