Gay City News: Warning shots fired at Union Sq. gay marriage rally

Thomas K. Duane

December 16, 2009

By Duncan Osborne

Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009 4:58 PM CST

Appearing before a crowd of roughly 1,000 the day after the New York State Senate defeated a gay marriage bill in a lopsided 38-24 vote, Governor David Paterson urged the community to continue battling for equal marriage rights.

“On the day when the first same-sex couples should be getting married here in the state of New York... we fight on,” Paterson said at a Thurs., Dec. 3, rally organized by Marriage Equality New York and held at the northern end of Union Square. “Keep fighting, keep the pressure on.”

The Democratic governor, who sponsored the marriage bill and placed it on the Senate’s agenda for the recent special session, was greeted with extended cheers and applause. He recalled the Dred Scott case, an infamous Supreme Court decision in 1857 that ruled that no African-American could be a U.S. citizen, and said that the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves held in areas of the South in rebellion, came just five years later.

“The harshest, harshest times bring forth the greatest leadership,” the governor added.

That theme continued throughout the roughly 90-minute rally, as elected officials and activists told the crowd that the fight for gay marriage must go on.

“It has to keep going in the streets, it has to keep going on Election Day, on primary day,” said City Council Christine Quinn, the openly lesbian councilmember from the West Side.

“Primary day” was likely a warning to the eight Democrats who joined every Senate Republican in opposing the legislation. Early in the rally, when Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer criticized the Republicans for their votes, the crowd responded with “What about the Democrats?” and later “Vote them out.”

“I’m angry at the betrayal of people who are supposed to be standing up for our civil rights,” said State Sen. Thomas Duane, the openly gay representative from Chelsea. “The Democrats failed us in the Senate.”

Duane, the marriage measure’s lead sponsor in the Senate, was warmly welcomed by the crowd. After he spoke at the event, individuals approached him with handshakes, hugs and thanks for his efforts at passing the bill.

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