Tag Archives: civil rights

Marriage Equality Passes Assembly

16 Jun

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo submitted a message of necessity to the Assembly, which prompted that body to vote on the passage of the marriage equality bill that evening. (Text here). Governor Cuomo issued this statement upon its passage:

“The vote by the State Assembly has moved New York one step closer to making marriage equality a reality. I applaud these legislators’ prompt and courageous support on this measure, which will finally allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry and provide them with hundreds of rights that others take for granted. I commend Speaker Sheldon Silver for his leadership and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell for his tireless work fighting for equality. We are on the verge of a pinnacle moment for this state.”

Of the local Assembly members, here’s how they voted:

In Favor: Hoyt, Peoples-Stokes, Schroeder

Against: Schimminger, Gabryszak, Corwin, Hayes, Ceretto

Although the measure passed 80 – 67, I’m still somewhat dumbstruck by the fact that Assemblymembers who represent largely City of Buffalo constituencies voted in favor of this measure, but the suburban ones – even the Democrats – voted against it. I’ll reach out to all of them to try and get a statement as to why. Corwin’s office sent this along:

The constituents of the 142nd Assembly District have made it very clear to me they do not want to change the definition of marriage in this state. While many of my colleagues shared moving, and very personal stories and I respect them immensely, I cannot vote against the conscience of the thousands of Western New Yorkers I represent.

But she can vote against the conscience and civil rights of her homosexual constituents. Let me put it this way, as bluntly as I can: there is no rational argument against legalizing marriage equality. There are only emotional arguments, religious arguments, and uninformed or outrageous arguments – there are no rational ones. So, to my mind, a vote against marriage equality is a vote against civil rights, is a vote that, in effect, makes same-sex marriage tantamount to a crime, and a de jure nullity. And for what? For nothing. I can pretty much guarantee to all of my religious friends that God and Jesus in heaven aren’t looking down and hoping that lawmakers ensure that gay children of God cannot live their lives as happy and committed couples. Literal reads of God’s book on the matter are unpersuasive, as it also endorses stonings and slavery.

Yesterday I appeared on Brad Riter’s show on WECK 1230-AM, and discussed the marriage equality bill, and gave Brad the “why you should care, and why you should support marriage equality” argument. Listen here.

Of note,

Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester, explained how he was discriminated against as a young associate at a law firm for being gay. He soon quit the firm.

“What we do here today matters,” Bronson said on the Senate floor. “What we do here today is to recognize the rights of gay people, to enter a loving, committed relationship with all the protections that come from that marriage and all the responsibilities that come from that marriage.”

On the other hand, Assemblyman Dov Hikind held up the photograph shown above, and offered this sarcastic and noxious statement:

Noting that pop star Lady Gaga supported same-sex marriage, Assemblyman Dov Hikind said sarcastically, “When Lady Gaga got involved and told us and said we should support gay marriage, I said, you know, Lady Gaga, she is an example of how I should lead my life and how I should behave.”

If Hikind means “filthy rich” and “accepting of people’s uniqueness, individualism, and differences”, then yes, Mr. Hikind could indeed take an example from Gaga as to how to lead his life and behave. He chooses to perpetuate hatred, bigotry, and inequality.

So, John Ceretto, Robin Schimminger, Jim Hayes, and Dennis Gabryszak – what’s your excuse?

Epic Fail

With that said, much gratitude to Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, both of whom voted in favor of legalizing love. They deserve to be commended for their stand on behalf of equal rights and justice.

Now the attention turns again to the State Senate, which is on track to vote on this bill on Friday, but could receive a similar message of necessity from the Governor before then and accelerate the schedule. As far as we know, State Senator Kennedy will be voting in favor of the bill, and Senators Gallivan, Maziarz and Ranzenhofer are “no” votes. All eyes, therefore, are on Senator Mark Grisanti, who may be the pivotal vote in an evenly divided Senate, and who has expressed the fact that he is philosophically in favor of marriage equality, but that he feels bound by his Catholicism to vote against it. If you can, please contact Senator Grisanti’s office by email, phone, Twitter, or Facebook, and let him know (nicely) that a vote in favor of civil rights is the right choice.

A Victory For America

19 Dec

Yesterday, the United States Senate overcame the ever present threat of a Republican filibuster and voted 63-33 to invoke cloture for an up or down vote on repealing the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)”.  Three hours later, the repeal passed the Senate with a vote of 65-31.  The House of Representatives had previously approved the measure, 250 to 175.

Some day, we’ll look back and wonder why it took so long to repeal it.  I think Senator McCain might feel differently as he was the primary opponent to the repeal of this policy, after supporting it in previous years.

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Enacted by President Clinton 17 years ago, DADT had led to the discharge of nearly 14,000 gay service members.  The policy has been the subject of controversy since Clinton backed it as a compromise in 1993, as gay rights advocates attacked it politically and sought relief in the courts. Earlier this year, a federal court declared the law unconstitutional and the decision is now under appeal.  However, the legislative repeal is the victory we all sought.  It is based upon the merits of the issue (not legal technicalities) and comes with the endorsement of a super majority of Senators, including eight Republicans.  It is a momentous occasion for civil rights in America.  President Obama released a statement thanking the Congress for making this possible.

Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.

By ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

As a veteran who served with dozens of LGBT airmen, seamen, soldiers and marines who served their country in fear, yesterday was a day filled with pride, remorse and hope.

The remorse is due to the fact that I served with three intelligence analysts and Arab linguists who were discharged from the Air Force when it was discovered that they were homosexual.  Losing those airmen in the service of our nation, after hundreds of thousands of dollars in training, in fields crucial to national security, made America less safe.  Soon, that will no longer be the case.

I hope that this victory serves as a penultimate chapter in this long battle for LGBT rights and that we will soon remove the last legislative barriers to full civil rights for all citizens.

Let’s Have a Toast

25 Oct

There’s been a lot in the news lately about bullying and the affects it can have on kids.  I’ve never been particularly handsome or thin, so when I was a kid I was subjected to my share of bullying.  I was lucky always to have close friends, and being an only child certainly helped in terms of what I’d term “dealing with assholes“.

Bullying and hate speech must be particularly difficult for kids who are different because of something inherent in their being; something they can’t change. For instance, being mocked for your ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation.  I can only imagine how crushing it must be for a kid who’s gay – or even an effeminate straight kid – to be called hateful, dehumanizing names.

I know that as I teach my kids right from wrong, I’ll do everything in my power to keep them from bullying other kids, to instill in them a need to accept and appreciate people’s uniqueness and differences, and that I will defend them and protect them to the best of my abilities against being bullied by others.

On Saturday night, someone I followed on Twitter whose username is “Jeffrey_Dennis” called me a “no talent fuck”, a “fathead”, and compared my likeness to that of a character from an extremely obscure, short-lived failure of a mid-90s sitcom.   Who the hell is “Jeffrey Dennis“?

When douchebags tweet

Jeffrey Dennis Hannon.  Carl Paladino’s recently offended, openly gay nephew.

You may recall that candidate Carl Paladino had a problem a couple of weeks ago regarding his stance on homosexuality. After parroting bigoted anti-gay nonsense written down for him by detestable homophobe Yehuda Levin, Paladino had to backtrack, claiming to totally support and be completely ok with homosexuality except for the *yuck* idea that they might love each other and get married, or enter into civil unions:

I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t,” he said. ”I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.”

I don’t know how it works in your family, but none of my uncles would make a crack about something about me that I can’t change.  No one in my family would parrot someone else’s hate speech and pass it off as their own.

Yet Jeff Hannon, a 23 year-old nephew of Carl Paladino’s, has evidently forgiven his uncle, and went on Twitter Saturday night to call me fat and ugly.  Guilty, as charged.

His childish insults are like a badge of honor.

Because I’m better than Jeff Hannon; I’m better than this 23 year-old scion of Important Buffalo Families®, working for his nouveau-riche megalomaniacal uncle, making over $250k at Uncle Carl’s Ellicott Development. (That’s two hundred and fifty thousand plus reasons to quickly forgive one’s asshole uncle-cum-boss).  Let’s have a toast to the douchebags. Good looking kid, born into wealth and influence  – must be nice.  Tough life, there.  

And to think, I feel badly for that kid.  It must suck being so publicly insulted by your own flesh and blood.  Why, Uncle Carl himself noted that Hannon “suffers every day with discriminatory people.” It must be crushing to belong to a political party that has no respect or use for him or his ilk.  No joke, the Republican platform on gay rights is nonexistent, and when the issue comes up, mainstream Republican dogma on gay rights differs only stylistically from that of the Westboro Baptist Church. Let’s have a toast to the assholes.

The GOP has spent the last three decades aligning itself with Christian fundamentalists on social issues, making a crystal clear choice in favor of bigotry over love.

I think Carl Paladino’s nephew Jeff Hannon should enjoy the civil right to marry someone he loves, regardless of gender. Uncle Carl doesn’t, nor ever would. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags.

While Mr. Hannon may have worn purple last week, I doubt that his uncle did.  He seems like a hateful, petty little kid.  I hope he grows up someday.