Belated Hero of Month: Governor Andrew Cuomo

I owe Andrew Cuomo an apology for being late with his hero designation. My excuse fits the occasion, however. My wife and I were fully occupied with buying and moving into a 90 year old fixer-upper here in Los Angeles. The deed says we hold title as “wife and wife as community property with right of survivorship.” Legalese has never been so emotionally significant.

This type of domestic milestone is what New York activists have been working so hard to make possible for that state’s same-sex couples. Thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, hundreds of them have been getting married in the past couple of weeks. The governor’s engagement was crucial to New York’s success. Just two years ago, without Cuomo, we were on the cusp of gaining marriage equality there, but lost by a crushing six votes in the Senate.

Cuomo did what good leaders do — he set a goal and galvanized support behind it. He made marriage equality a top priority and coordinated supporters through the coalition New Yorkers United for Marriage so that they did not work at cross-purposes. The victory was a team effort, but Cuomo’s leadership made the difference.

New York’s couples will become marriage equality pioneers, like thousands of couples in New England, Iowa and California. It is strange, though, that such a quintessentially domestic act could seem so revolutionary. Part of me sympathizes with Boy George, who has referred to the mainstreaming of gay culture as “the big assimilation.”

Much has been written about the irony of gays fighting for the right to marry, as if LGB couples were all masquerading as “normal” for the sole purpose of gaining acceptance by the society at large. Lynne and I don’t see it that way, of course. We are not striving to create a conventional relationship, we simply are conventional in that regard, and would have been whether the broader society chose to acknowledge and support us or not. We are grateful to everyone — no matter what their feelings about marriage as an institution — who worked so hard to give us the opportunity to get married. We will do our part to make sure others have the opportunity to live their lives how they want to live them. I know that many of the other tens of thousands of married same-sex couples feel the same way.

Liz Newcomb is an attorney by day and committed LGBT activist by night and weekend. She has worked as a researcher at the Williams Institute. While in law school at UCLA, she was Articles Editor of the LGBT law journal. Liz lives in West Hollywood with her wife, Lynne. They are one of the 18,000 California same-sex couples who got married during the summer before proposition 8 passed. Liz has lived in California for over 20 years and brings a left coast perspective to AMERICAblog.

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