Pride Weekend – Joy and Sadness
~The Empire State Building in rainbow colors last night to celebrate marriage equality
I, like many Americans, sat last night riveted, watching the New York State Senate debate and vote on a bill for Marriage Equality. I watched while Senator Ruben Diaz monopolized the floor talking about how his rights were being violated by having to stick to a 2 minute time period for comment. He wanted to make sure he had three times the time of anyone else to talk about how God had already made the decision about gay marriage, and it wasn’t Albany’s place to do so. But Diaz finally had to yield both his time, and his imagined theocracy to others. Post Politics notes the irony.
As more and more Republicans warm up to the idea [of same-sex marriage], it has been Democrats — most visibly, those who hail from black and Latino Christian communities — who have stood in the way.
~A demonstrator opposing Anchorage’s equal rights ordinance. June, 2009.
Senator Tom Duane (D) got up and told of coming out to his Catholic parents when he was 18 years old. They were afraid for him, and sad. They thought he would be persecuted, and lonely, and never able to marry, and the victim of discrimination. It turns out that they were only partially right. He asked the Senate to vote yes for him and his partner Louis, and for all New Yorkers.
Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican and practicing Catholic spoke of his difficulties. He had once opposed the bill and still objects to the use of the word “marriage” to describe a same-sex union. He apologized to those constituents who would be disappointed by his change of heart. But, he said, “a man can be wiser today than yesterday,” and as an attorney he could not “legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.” His sense of justice and equality, and law trumped the way he was raised.
A critical last-minute yes vote came from another Republican Senator, Stephen Saland. He had been undecided until the end and described his “emotional journey.” “My vote is a vote of conscience,” he said. “I am at peace with my vote.”
Ultimately, the votes were cast and the bill passed 33-29. In celebration, the Empire State Building was illuminated in rainbow colors. Half a continent away, another landmark followed suit. The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis was also ablaze with the colors of the rainbow to celebrate its own PrideFest weekend. The rainbow bridge had been thwarted for years by former Republican governor Tim Pawlenty, but the new administration let the project go forward.
While New York and five other states have openly declared citizens to be equal in their rights, Anchorage has a long way to go. In the summer of 2009, after listening to dozens of hours of testimony, the Anchorage Assembly voted for Ordinance 64 that would allow its LGBT citizens equal rights in such basic things as housing, education, employment, and use of public facilities. But, Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed the decision, meaning that members of the LGBT community can legally be denied housing, or fired from their jobs just for being gay.
E. Ross, over at Bent Alaska notes:
There is no residency requirement to marry in the state of New York, so Alaska’s gay and lesbian couples can get legally married there. New York does not have an initiative process that could be used to overturn this victory like opponents did in California. The law doubles the number of people in the U.S. who live where same sex couples can marry.
~Protest was a family affair in 2009 in Anchorage. Sign reads “When the Gay Agenda Destroys Civil Liberties, Everyone Loses.”
Alaskans must take their victories vicariously by sharing triumphs in spirit with other states. On that note, today’s Pride Fest celebrations, including the annual parade in downtown Anchorage promised to be even more festive than usual coming on the heels of the historic New York vote. But it was not to be.
A pedestrian was tragically struck and killed by the convertible of the Grand Marshal of the parade in front of onlookers.
Police spokesman Lt. David Parker identified the victim as a 50-year-old man — not a woman, as the Daily News initially reported.
Grand Marshal Doug Frank said he was riding in the black convertible when the driver had trouble with the car’s accelerator. It lurched forward, Frank said.
“It ran over a person, totally over,” he said, sobbing. “This went from one of the best days of my life to the worst.”
The parade was canceled while police investigated the scene and traffic was restricted for blocks around. Other events continued, but the tragedy made hearts heavy.
John Aronno of Alaska Commons reports that the event organizers held a moment of silence and reminded the crowd that Pridefest is also a celebration of life and love, and that the tragedy shouldn’t negate this day set aside for the community.
This is a developing story. You can get updates at The Anchorage Daily News HERE. They are asking anyone who witnessed the event to contact email@example.com
A day of congratulations and condolences.