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New York Governor David Paterson Fights For Gay Marriage Equality

May 30, 2008

There are politicians ‘in the arena’ that deserve praise and recognition.  New York Governor David Paterson is one such politician, if for no other reason than his announcement this week on behalf of gay couples around the nation.

Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”

The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses.

In a videotaped message given to gay community leaders at a dinner on May 17, Mr. Paterson described the move as “a strong step toward marriage equality.” And people on both sides of the issue said it moved the state closer to fully legalizing same-sex unions in this state.

The fact that there will be howls from the knuckle-draggers should not in any way make us think twice about their protests.  As the Tin Man argues quite concisely, there just is no argument to be made for not recognizing gay marriages.

“….the “entire meaning and purpose” of marriage has been altered many times over the years — over centuries, in fact — and that this is not because of a “single politician or court or legislature,” but because of the evolution of society. Marriage is no longer about the joining of two families for economic benefit; it’s no longer about dowries and the subsuming of a woman’s legal identity into that of a man; it’s no longer about the survival of your tribe. For some people it’s not even about having children. Marriage can be about having children, and raising a family, and it usually is. But not always. It can be about happiness and personal stability. It can be about economic benefits. People get married for all sorts of reasons today, and liberalized divorce laws attest to how much society’s definition of marriage has changed over the years.”

The fact is that those who wish to go backwards will have a rough time of it in New York.

Legal challenges to Gov. David A. Paterson’s plan to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are likely to come thick and fast. But they face an uphill fight, legal experts said on Thursday, given New York’s unusual legal terrain.

There is a new day dawning in America; one that heralds social progress and equality in the same manner that the vast majority of citizens have long enjoyed.  To try and impede that progress, or wish it away, is indefensible and runs counter to the larger themes and hopes that built our nation.

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