The recent passage of a same-sex marriage bill in New York – and its near instant signature by Governor Cuomo – is extremely important, for several reasons. First, it more than doubles the number of United States residents who have the option of legally marrying, and probably doubles the number of same-sex couples who now have that option. That alone is a dramatic improvement in the legal lives of New Yorkers. Second, New York State is not a particularly liberal place when it comes to these sorts of issues – and this has been a hard fought battle and it was won vote-by-vote. Prevailing in New York is a powerful sign of how the politics of this issue have improved in recent years.
But there is a subtler way in which this is an important turning point. New York City is the nation’s center of commerce, journalism, and wealth. Changing the legal rules in New York means that stock brokerages, national corporations, newspapers and the like will all have to change their practices to recognize same-sex couples who have gotten married. Forms will change, personnel rules will change, and the treatment of the New York employees and residents will change. This will pave the way for easier changes nationally, and most likely will open up the minds of a powerful force of influential decision-makers – especially in corporate America. Moreover, the writers and publishers who work in New York will be witnessing the change, and this will lead to positive stories nationally.
Congratulations to the hard working political activists who made this change possible!
One minor word of caution: New York’s rules of marriage are particular onerous, especially when it comes to getting divorced. So while we all must celebrate this important new right to marry, the decision to actually get married should not be taken lightly. Please, don’t let your major contribution to the New York economy be the fees you have to pay to lawyers to end your same-sex marriage – at least not anytime soon!