I usually do not write about political events here, but last night's vote to legalize same sex marriage in New York transcends mere politics. On Andrew Sullivan's emotional live-blog of the vote, he says that “what equality really meant [was] the right to marry.” The vote wasn't about petty politics but about deeper values: equality and dignity.
The inclusion of equality is obvious; the state privileged heterosexual relationships over homosexual relationships. Now the law treats both relationships equally so heterosexuals and homosexuals are equal under the law. However, legal equality is intrinsically tied to dignity.
Dignity is derived from Latin (dignitas) through French. In everyday life, it means respect and status. This is what this vote was about, and why it was so important. In New York, along with Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Iowa, gay couples are now afforded the same respect and status as their heterosexual peers. The state and, by extension, the public, views them as full citizens, with all the rights and privileges afforded by such citizenship.
Gov. Cuomo deserves a huge amount of credit for his leadership. During a speech to state Republicans, he supposedly said (reported from someone who heard the speech), “Their love is worth the same as your love. Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”
This is about equality. This is about dignity. This is about gays being accepted by their fellow citizens and by their government as complete people, worthy of respect and status. This is about their love being seen as true, their relationships as full and rich.
Now, at least in six states, this is true.