Progress on marriage equality is sweeping across the country this year. As both the legislative sponsor of the Marriage Equality Act in New York State and a gay man, this news profoundly heartens me. I returned from my honeymoon this week to the news of Prop 8's defeat, but even more inspiring for me was the news about Washington State's passage of marriage equality.
Hearing the news brought me back to my own experience passing the marriage equality bill last spring, to the moment when the secretary finally called my bill to the Senate floor. I had led it to passage five times before in the Assembly, but this time it seemed likely to succeed in the other chamber. I was overwhelmed with the sense of gratitude and pride that swept over me as I watched my colleagues finally affirm my right to marry whomever I choose. And in my case, that was someone I had chosen long ago, my partner John Banta, who stood by my side on that day and whom I finally married this January after 31 years together.
Marriage equality certainly has been gaining momentum over the past year, and I celebrate its prominence in the news and on legislative agendas. But I remember well, as I'm sure Washington State Representative Pedersen and Senator Murray do, the long slog that preceded this period of action, the many times bills were almost passed, or watered-down versions squeaked through instead, as we fought for our rights as equal citizens of our states and our United States. I am incredibly proud to congratulate these successful legislators on the day Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law, and welcome them into the next stage of the fight for marriage equality.
For our work, as we all know, is far from over. We must maintain our momentum and continue to advocate for equal rights for all citizens of the United States. Ignorance and injustice remain all too common in our great country, and our new marriage equality laws have not eradicated them from New York or Washington, either. But those of us who have already successfully passed marriage equality in our states have gained a new perspective and position from which to advocate for further rights for the LGBT community. We have proof of the positive effects of our new laws, and renewed energy with which to advocate for marriage equality across the U.S., and against the constitutional bans that hurt so many American couples and families.
I look forward to working alongside the brave legislators from Washington State to pursue this fight across America, and moving toward the day when marriage equality becomes a reality for all.
Follow Daniel O'Donnell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DanielJODonnell