martinez&goldenMay 29, 2008

New York Governor David Paterson made a sweeping pronouncement,instructing state agencies to recognize same sex marriages from other states, in accord with New York law, following the ruling in Martinez vs. Monroe County on February 1st. (NYTimes photo)

Governor Paterson initially made the announcement in a 5-minute videocast to the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) 2008 Spring Dinner, when he especially thanked Lisa Golden and Patricia Martinez for their efforts leading him to say:  

I’m directing our agency heads that we will recognize marriages conducted outside our state right here in New York State, and this will be a strong step toward marriage equality right here within this state. 

On February 1st, the appellate court ruled: 

It is ADJUDGED and DECLARED that plaintiff’s marriage to Lisa Ann Golden in the Province of Ontario, Canada is entitled to recognition in New York State.

Paterson explained on his official May 29th news conference video: 

We would extend to people who were married in other states, whether of opposite sex or of the same sex the same equal opportunities in New York as we have granted those marriages traditionally that have existed in other states by law, or in foreign jurisdictions by witness. 

Martinez  requires NY to consider its impact on state agencies, to avoid discrimination and to be in compliance with the law.  Patterson provides this timeline: 

On May 14th, the day before the Supreme Court of California granted marriage equality in that state, in New York, 24 hours earlier, I directed … the counsels of the agencies of our government to bring back reports to all of us on June 30th demonstrating any possible conflicts such that we can be in compliance with the law. 

DavidPattersonIn his videocast to ESPA, Gov. Paterson specified that health care coverage for all is included in his directive. This will require all state agencies to review, and likely change, policies and regulations to recognize such marriages.   

Fortunately for NY, in February, ESPA released its compendium of rights and responsibilities accorded heterosexual couples in NY, as part of a joint project with the New York City Bar Association. The 108-page report, 1,324 Reasons for Marriage Equality in New York State, admits this is the minimum number of special rights and privileges that straight couples enjoy, which lawyers and researchers were able to document. 

In defending marriage equality, Gov. Paterson displays his depth of understanding when he says: 

But it’s more than that.  We also have to fight so that young people are free from the bullying that comes with some of the preferences or choices that they make.  

Yes. I have known too many men, and some women, who were brutally beaten for their sexuality.  And, of course, we cannot forget Matthew Sheppard or Brandon Teena, among the thousands who have died as a result of such hatred. 

Next, Gov. Paterson reveals complete comprehension of the LGBT issue when he continues: 

We also have to make sure that transgendered Americans are not in any way discriminated more than any other Americans. 

Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals suffer from transgender discrimination for the same reason transgendered folk do:  we behave in ways that homophobes believe are outside gender-specific roles, which are artificially constructed to maintain the dominant patriarchal paradigm.

Khadijah Farmer’s experience at a NYC deli exemplifies why the LGBT movement cannot separate the T from our cause.  And since I’ve been mistaken for a male countless times, without even trying, I have to defend T’s – I am a part of their tribe as much as they are a part of mine.  

With California’s recent decision on same sex marriage, and Washington D.C.’s addition of 39 more protections for LGBT’s, and now NY recognizing same sex marriages from other states, 2008 may be the “Golden” year when social justice advocacy finally stems the rising homophobic tide stoked by Bush-Rove’s 2004 election strategy. 

We have much to celebrate this summer during our annual Pride Festivals. Thank you, David Patterson, and especially, Lisa Golden and Patricia Martinez.  Congratulations on your personal, legal, and political victories that serve human rights everywhere.