Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –
The New York State Assembly voted on a same-sex marriage bill in 2007 and again in 2009. There were five Members who voted no in 2007 but yes in 2009. What motivated these five people to change their vote?
Their stories seem to fall into two camps. Sandy Galef, a Democrat from Westchester, Tim Gordon, an Independence member from Albany, and Fred Thiele, a Republican from Suffolk County, all changed their votes because of their concerns about civil unions. Assemblymember Thiele said “I thought equal rights could be guaranteed through civil unions… only to find that discrimination persisted in health care and other areas. The only way to ensure equality is by giving all couples access [to marriage.]”
The other two Members, Bob Reilly, a Democrat from Albany/Saratoga and Janet Duprey, a Republican from the Northeast, claim their change of vote sprang from personal conversations they had with constituents. They learned that gay men and women are no different than heterosexual men and women, and want the same things for themselves and their children. Assemblymember Duprey concluded that “United States was founded on the principle of equal protection and rights for all, and I will cast my vote for the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.”
It is frustrating to have to wait for Californians to realize what these New York lawmakers have: that denying gay marriage is un-American and un-Christian. I wish you would be more vocal, Governor, about what made you change your mind, and bring some more of the people along with you.