07/23/2011 10:14 am ET Updated Sep 22, 2011

A Step Closer to Equality

Tomorrow, New York will join Massachusetts as one of six states that recognize same-sex couples' right to marry, and our country comes a step closer to ensuring that every person is free to marry whomever they love. When Massachusetts became the first state to affirm marriage equality in 2004, opponents decried the decision, saying it would cause irreparable harm to our society. But in the seven years since, the sky hasn't fallen. In fact, the institution of marriage has been strengthened.

Our state simply affirmed the principle that all citizens come before their government as equals. Same-sex couples in Massachusetts have gained the security of knowing that their families have the same rights and protections as every other family, including health care benefits and hospital visitation rights. We've kept the government out of their personal, intimate decisions -- something citizens across the political spectrum understand and appreciate.

The celebrations that will take place across New York tomorrow are long overdue. Committed couples who have waited a lifetime to marry will do so in the coming days and weeks. But many more elsewhere continue to wait. Our experience in Massachusetts shows that fears about marriage equality are unfounded. We should never allow legalized discrimination against gay and
lesbian couples. With each state that embraces same-sex marriage as a matter of fundamental fairness, we move farther along the path to equality.