A Buffalo native, I was living in Los Angeles when I heard that gay marriage would be a possibility in my home state of New York. It was, of course, an amazing moment that was a culmination of hard work from not only politicians and activists, but “regular” people from across the Empire State; college students, senior citizens, youth groups, and countless other individuals from New York City to Niagara Falls.
“Well,” a friend said to me over the phone a few days later, “at least you can get married in Buffalo now.”
At least. The word echoed in my head long after the conversation ended. What was meant to be a kind gesture enraged me with a variety of emotions; I was not upset with my friend, but at the aspect that some individuals felt that I should feel privileged for being able to marry a man on the east coast.
For those of us who are part of the millennial generation, the inclusiveness and support we offer to those in the LGBT community seem like second nature; however, this is not the case for all of us and most certainty, it is not the case for a majority of those who are from other generations. As various states “jump on the bandwagon,” so to speak, has the marriage equality leg of the modern gay rights movement finally gained steam in America? Are the successes in Washington State and Maryland an indication of the continued progress for the rest of 2012 and beyond?
I believe that America is at a progressive turning point for marriage equality, but the success in a few states is not something to be completely thrilled about. I look at the map and I’m still confused why my siblings can get married in every state, and myself, only a few.
Although those of us in Generation Y are typically the ones pushing and fighting for change, our liberal mentalities are also seen as a detriment; it’s one thing to be LGBT-friendly and another to be actively supporting and demanding change. Most times, it appears as if many of us sit back and relax under the belief of, “well, I’m a supporter of LGBT marriage equality and so are my friends, so I’m doing my part.” Staying mum isn’t going to help, and if there is one thing those our age should demand, it’s voicing our objections to politicians who use a shield of religion to condone their homophobic behavior or anti-LGBT actions, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who recently vetoed a marriage equality bill.
Close to a year ago, when one vote was needed for marriage equality to pass in New York, I wondered if a Republican – many who claimed homosexual marriage went against their religion – would change their mind and vote for the measure. Ironically, one of the Republican senators (Mark Grisanti) who did change his mind was not only from my hometown of Buffalo, but attended the same Catholic college as me.
Prior to the vote, Grisanti stated that he opposed same-sex marriage due to his Catholic upbringing. But on the night of the vote, he stated, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the state of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.” Was this a result of a plea by Lady Gaga at her Buffalo concert on March 4, 2011 that requested concertgoers to contact the senator to push for same-sex marriage? Was it the liberal, Catholic institution that he and I both attended?
One thing is certain: Many politicians, no matter their political affiliation, will continue to use their religious beliefs in order to oppress those in the LGBT community, particularly when it comes to same-sex marriage.
I’m turning 23-years-old this month. I’m not done traveling the United States or the world. I’m not sure where I’ll end up or who I’ll end up with, but I know one thing for sure: I’m not going to let others tell me where I can marry my future husband. Although, just between us, I do have the perfect venue already picked out in Buffalo.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons