Thursday, January 24, 2008

Organizing for marriage equality on Long Island

Last night more than 200 Long Islanders crowded into Central Synagogue in Rockville Centre to hear about where the marriage equality bill stood in the state legislature and how they could get involved in making marriage for same-sex couples a reality in New York.

The event, organized by the Pride Agenda, HRC, NYCLU and Marriage Equality New York was also co-sponsored by about two dozen local Long Island LGBT groups and supportive religious congregations.

LGBT people and straight allies began filing in at 7:00 PM and listened to a four-speaker panel (one from each of the sponsoring organizations) discuss the marriage equality movement and how we’ve gotten to where we are today--nationally and in New York State. They learned about actions they could take on the spot to help move the needle on Long Island, and ways that they could get involved in this crucial election year.

Panelists emphasized that the New York State Senate was the only remaining roadblock to marriage equality in New York. The crowd was eager to know where their State Senators were on marriage equality and Pride Agenda Program Director Desma Holcomb, using the Pride Agenda Legislative Scorecard, pointed out that many Long Island Senators have yet to publicly declare where they are on the issue. Holcomb said the next step is for Long Islanders to move these "undecided" Senators to support marriage equality and, if unsuccessful, then seriously think about replacing those who are opposed.

Panelists also stated that the 2008 electoral strategy for LGBT New Yorkers is to elect a pro-LGBT majority -- consisting of both Democrat and Republican Senators-- that is willing to take up marriage equality and other bills important to the LGBT community. Because the current Senate Republican leadership continues to say very publicly that it has no intention of letting the bill come up for a vote, this means making a significant change in the State Senate to move the bill, something almost every political pundit agrees can happen this November.

After the discussion, attendees signed letters and made phone calls to their State Senators stating their support for marriage equality. And each person provided the names and contact information of at least five more supportive Long Islanders who can actively participate in organizing support for marriage equality.

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