Marriage, New York, and Me
“In two weeks, I am moving to New York and I would like to move to a state where I will one day be able to get married,” I confided in Republican New York State Representative Janet Duprey.
“I hope that we’ll be able to give that to you,” she confided to me.
When Representative Duprey ran for office in 2006, she opposed marriage equality for same-gender couples. Our visit in 2007 was one of many meetings she was having with clergy, community leaders, and constituents. We brought her flowers representative of the flowers we each would like to have at our wedding. She told us that she was likely changing her position, that our visit was one of the visits that was helping her to feel confident in that decision.
Representative Janet Duprey is now a supporter of marriage equality.
Over the course of two weeks, young adults scoured the state of New York in four vans, starting conversations with politicians and community members about the importance of marriage equality. I left my shoes with then-Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno asking him to “walk a mile” in my shoes and support marriage equality. He later reversed his position; I like to think he took my battered Converses to heart.
Folks sometimes call us activists, we certainly advocated. Many of us were students, some of us were recent graduates, some of us took time off from work, some of us didn’t work. We came from New York, California, and elsewhere around the country. We educated ourselves, educated others, and changed hearts and minds.
There are so many forces at work in world and in New York. So many organizations and individuals dedicated to justice for LGBTQ people. It would be irresponsible to say that Soulforce caused marriage equality in New York all by ourselves. And it would be just as remiss to fail to notice that Soulforce serves a particular need within the LGBTQ conversation: we are unafraid of hard conversations, we are convinced that there is hope for redemption in everyone, we go directly to the source of homophobia and transphobia: religious rhetoric. The work of Soulforce is crucial for ushering in justice for LGBTQ people.
Today, I conspire with Soulforce and other visionary individuals and organizations to change the world through web & media. I know that the training and experience I received from Soulforce was crucial in my development as a person, community leader, and activist.
I hope you will join with me in supporting Soulforce so that another crop of young adult leaders can be lifted up and offer the world hope, healing, and transformation.
Photo by Brian Gerald Murphy