Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's worse? AIDS or the NY Senate Vote?

Yeah. That's a harsh question, isn't it? Well, I mean it.

Let's start with something a little, not happier, but more hopeful. World AIDS Day was last week (sorry I didn't post closer to it.) Leigh-Taylor, my roommate Matt and I went to City Hall just a 5 min walk from my apartment to read names of those who have lost their lives to AIDS. The book I read from, of three total, was maybe 1/3 of the way through the giant three-ring binder and it was already 10:00pm, many hours into the vigil. We were there among NYC Public Allies (my sister was a PA) and a few independent people just like us, people who wanted to honor and remember those who have lost the battle and stand with hope that someday, preferably in my lifetime, we will see the end to this devastating disease. And this is in the US. My sister, Sarah, just left Namibia, Africa after 2 1/2 years in the Peace Corps. You want to talk about AIDS? No one, myself included, can wrap their head around what an awful epidemic HIV is. But we can all hope and pray for a future without it.

The vote. Ok I did not post about the NY Senate vote on Marriage Equality immediately because I wanted to be appropriate. The energy and emotional disappointment I felt following the hours I spent glued to the computer watching the live stream would not have made a good combination with public blogs and social media. Why, NY, why? And a 24-38 vote? We put so much effort into the Republican and conservative vote - but we still have many Democrats voting against this civil right. The senators who proudly spoke during the stream were insightful and passionate. The people who voted against this act proposing deserved equality cowardly said "no" with no explanation. Some things I took away from the debate:

Why is marriage so important? (among the 1,324 rights that marriage grants)
  • Access to employer-provided health insurance for partners or adopted children
  • Ability to sponsor your partner for immigration
  • Denied rights to non-biological adoptive parents
  • Joint insurance for home auto and health insurance
  • Hospital visits and questions
Sen Diane Savino, 23rd Distrtict, brought up a brilliant, yet kind of disgusting point about our society. "Watch reality tv shows – they’re giving away husbands! 25 women can compete to win the heart of a 40 year-old man who hasn’t been able to hold a serious relationship or a man can choose between 25 beautiful women and love or $1,000,000."

Rather than asking yourself how can you vote yes? Ask yourself how could you vote no? As a senator who believes in our constitution, as a woman, as a Jew, as anyone who has experienced discrimination themselves or in their family/friends, how could you vote no?

Reflecting on his own recent wedding– the most important and moving day in his life – Sen Daniel Squadron of the 25th (my) district said he was empowered to speak up about the importance of this decision today to allow every person to equally and rightfully experience what he did on his wedding day. Think about your wedding - the one you had, maybe the second one you had, the one you want to have.

"History has shown that extending civil rights to all people has made our nation whole, held up the constitution of the US, and improved our society." - Jose Serrano, 28th District

So what's next? We have to keep going. In January, we could see this bill proposed once again. Thank your senators who said "yes." Remind them that they are voting in the right. Write your senators who said "no." Share a personal story with respect. When you get defeated about it, just think, "Iowa did it."


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