Friday Forum

Friday Forum: What Should the Gay Community About NY Marriage?

It’s that time of the week, when Queerty takes a break from the opinion-making and puts you, the readers, in charge. Each Friday, we invite you to be the pundit on a hot-button question facing the LGBT community and its allies. As always, we expect people to be respectful and considerate of others by refraining from personal attacks. We present the information, you make the decision.

17marriage_600Usually, when anything happens in the gay marriage efforts across the U.S. we can count on seeing our Inbox filled with press releases from the alphabet soup of gay-rights organizations letting us know their opinions on the pressing issue of the day. Yesterday, after Gov. David Paterson held a press conference introducing same-sex marriage legislation in New York, saying, “Anyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is…This is a civil rights issue. Civil rights don’t wait for the right time”, what we heard was the sound of crickets chirping.

To be fair, Paterson’s announcement caught just about everyone off guard, but we’re surprised to find that major LGBT organizations have either no response, or tepid ones, like Empire State Pride Agaenda executive director Alan Van Capelle’s statement that “This isn’t something that hinges on his popularity — it’s too personal of an issue. It defies ordinary Albany political logic”, which hardly sounds like ringing endorsement– or a promise to get into the fight.

As we argued yesterday, “The reality is, the struggle for gay and lesbian rights is one that will ultimately prevail, so long as we keep making our case… Paterson’s announcement [is] yet another opportunity for us to do so.”

We’re going to assume for a second that our readers want to see gays and lesbians marry in New York (a huge leap, we know), and ask you, if major mainstream LGBT groups are going to sit on the sidelines on this issue, what should grassroots and netroots activists do? As Paterson argues, there’s no ‘right time’ for a civil rights battle, but if groups like Empire State Pride, HRC and others decide that the NY marriage bill is a losing battle (and there’s nobody arguing that it won’t be a challenge), what can every day gays and lesbians, the sort of people whose lives who would be directly affected by a New York gay marriage bill passing, do?

It’s not that we don’t hear the argument from these mainstream groups that this is a tough and possibly unwinnable battle, but based on your comments, it’s a battle you want to fight. If you can’t rely on the traditional groups, where should you turn to? In California, grassroots activists have, over the course of several months, begun developing their own strategies and networks, separate from the traditional gay rights movement. Is it time for New York to do the same? Also, what good is a gay rights organization that won’t stand up for gay rights? It seems as if Governor Paterson is capitalizing on the moment. We put it to you: How should gays and lesbians capitalize on the moment that Paterson’s created?