It is with tremendous joy that Stonewall Democrats of Western New York celebrates the passage of the Marriage Equality Act by the NYS Legislature. At long last, New York will cease to segregate civil marriage rights based on gender. Families throughout our state today have been validated by our government, and given the civil rights once denied them. When same-gender marriages begin in New York, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer (LGBTQ) New Yorkers will have access to the state rights that come with a civil marriage.
We commend our Governor Andrew Cuomo for his soaring leadership on this issue. Gov. Cuomo made good on his promise of bringing marriage equality to our great state, and without his non-partisan leadership, we would not have this great victory today.
I thank—from the bottom of my heart—SDWNY Vice-President of Community Affairs and Outspoken for Equality President Kitty Lambert for her powerhouse leadership on Marriage Equality. For the last several years, Kitty and her partner Cheryl Rudd have worked their lives for this issue. Kitty Lambert has been the voice of the Marriage Equality movement in WNY, and all fair-minded New Yorkers will forever be grateful for her role in Marriage Equality’s passage.
New York State could not have gained this victory for the civil rights movement without the ceaseless work and unfailing dedication of our Stonewall Democrats of Western New York members, allies and incredible community of local, grassroots advocates. It is because of each letter you signed or delivered, each phone call you made, each lobby visit you attended and each neighbor you talked about equality that we now have Marriage Equality in NYS. Thank you to the many SDWNY members and activists who have, throughout the years, worked so passionately for this issue. We thank Carol Speser, community leader and co-founder of SDWNY, for her astounding leadership and advocacy for Marriage Equality. We thank SDWNY Vice-President for Political Affairs Bruce Kogan for his heart and endless drive to work for equality. We thank SDWNY Secretary Thomas Peglowski and Treasurer Ronald Groth. We thank James Bragg, Rita Sanchez, Paul Morgan, Mark Nowak, Jamestown City Council President Gregg Rabb, Ari Moore, Thomas Gleed, Madeline Davis, Wendy Smiley, Andrew Randazzo, Terry Purdue, Edwin Martinez, Douglas Charles, Sean Cooney, Cynthia Appleton, Christopher Sasiadek, Michael James, Gail Wojtowicz, former NYS Sen. Antoine Thompson, Timothy Maggio, Melissa Breckenridge and Jennifer Diagostino, among many, many others.
SDWNY extends a special commendation to NYS Assemblymember Sam Hoyt. Throughout his career in the Assembly, Sam Hoyt has fiercely championed the civil rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Always, Sam Hoyt has stood with the LGBTQ community. Marriage Equality is now law in NY because of his great work and advocacy.
We also proudly extend our utmost gratitude to NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy. A pro-equality voice where previously we’d had none, Sen. Kennedy has proven to be among the most-staunch supporters of LGBTQ rights in the state legislature. As Andrew Cuomo did with his own election, Sen. Kennedy has made good on his promise of Marriage Equality, and SDWNY could not be more proud.
We also extend our immense gratitude to Senator Mark Grisanti. With his vote in favor of Marriage Equality, Sen. Grisanti displayed a true profile in courage by standing up for what is right. Throughout our lobbying and working with Sen. Grisanti, he has proven himself to be a man of great wisdom and heart—a Republican willing to listen to the needs of our community, open to learning and, in the end, champion the cause of civil rights. Our state and country would be a much better place if we had more heroic legislators like Sen. Mark Grisanti.
And we thank our WNY pro-equality Democratic legislators who helped pass Marriage Equality with their votes and advocacy—Assemblymembers Crystal People-Stokes and Mark Schroeder.
We thank all our outstanding pro-equality elected officials: Congress members Rep. Higgins, Hochul and Slaughter; Erie County Legislators Majority Leader Maria Whyte and Lynn Marinelli; Buffalo Common Councilmembers David Rivera, Michael LoCurto and Michael Kearns. And we thank the Erie County Democratic Committee for their support—Chairman Len Lenihan, Executive Director Jeremy Zellner and Melissa Bochenski, as well as the Erie County Young Democrats.
It is with this great happiness that we look to the next chapter of our involvement in the civil rights movement: the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. We remain saddened that our state has not extended protections from discrimination to our transgender sisters and brothers, and has not outlawed discrimination—for employment, for housing—based on an individual’s real or perceived gender identity and expression. We celebrate the victory of Marriage Equality today, and look forward to the day when every single LGBTQ American is afforded all her or his equal, civil rights.
Today, Gov. Cuomo continued to make good on his promise of passing Marriage Equality for New York State, by introducing the Marriage Equality Act to the NYS Senate and Assembly (READ the bill here.)
Yesterday, Sens. Carl Kruger, Joseph Addabbo and Shirley Huntley announced their support for civil rights, bringing the entire Senate Democratic conference to support equality, with only one exception. And in the last 24 hours, two Senate Republicans have announced their support of the bill. We commend Sens. Jim Alesi and Roy McDonald for having the courage to be the first of their Republican conference to take a stand for civil rights.
Now is the time to keep acting! We need to keep the pressure on Albany to pass the bill and make Marriage Equality law. Today, WNY Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) announced he was now undecided, rather than opposed. After months of lobbying by SDWNY, Outspoken for Equality and local open and affirming clergy, Sen. Grisanti is now undecided. Call him now at 716-854-8705 and let him know the true, incredible support civil marriage rights have in his district!
Sen. Pat Gallivan (R-Elma) has been another one of SDWNY and Outspoken’s focuses during the past several months. He also needs to keep hearing the incredible support Marriage Equality has in his district! Call him now at 716-656-8544!
We have never been closer to Marriage Equality! We would not be here if it were not for the hard, dedicated work of you and all our Stonewall Democrats.
If Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) is your senator, call him at 716-826-2683 and thank him for the support he has for Marriage Equality becoming law!
Also, please remember to thank our pro-equality Assemblymembers who have championed Marriage Equality, such as Assemblymember Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) 716-885-9630 at and Assemblymember Mark Schroeder (D-Buffalo) at 716-826-0152.
Today also brought fantastic news for the GENDA legislation, as the bill passed the Assembly once again. Please, in your phone calls for Marriage, thank the Assembly for passing GENDA and urge the Senate to follow suit!
Photo: Bryan Ball, Artist of piece: Kitty Lambert
Come show your pride and celebrate Buffalo Pride this weekend with the Stonewall Democrats of WNY. We will be marching, with Outspoken for Equality, in the Pride Parade and Dyke March, and will be having our Pride Raising Rally for LGBTQ civil rights this Saturday. Join SDWNY as we rally on Saturday with our community, allies and pro-equality elected officials such as Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and Sen. Tim Kennedy for Marriage and GENDA in NYS—and join us again on Sunday as we march in the parade to show our pride!
Friday, June 3
· Madeline Davis GLBT Archives will have a show at the Karpeles Museum at Elmwood and North (not the one near D’Youville). The opening is Friday, June 3, 7-9 and SDWNY member Madeline will be in attendance. People can browse items from the museum collection as well. The show is being put on by the Museum Dept. at Buffalo State College.
Saturday, June 4
· Pride Raising Rally: At 2PM on Saturday, June 4, in Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall and Sen. Mark Grisanti’s (R) Buffalo office, we will be showing our pride in our community by rallying for our civil rights. Join Stonewall and Outspoken for Equality as we rally with our community, allies and elected officials in support of Marriage Equality Gender Expression Non-Discrimination—and call on our State Legislature to pass Equality. Among our scheduled speakers, we will be joined by NYS Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and NYS Senator Tim Kennedy. We will be rallying to show all of WNY’s elected officials the tremendous support that exists in Buffalo and WNY for Marriage Equality and GENDA! You can also RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=153341324734082
- 10th Annual Dyke March - Come out and march in the Dyke March! Participants are asked to line up at 4 PM at Belmont Housing, located at 1195 Main St - by Main & Dodge. Step-off will be at 5 PM, and the march will travel down Summer Street and end at the Allen Street Festival, between Franklin and Pearl on Allen. For more information on this or the Festival, visit the Pride Center's website: http://www.pridecenterwny.org/site/
- Pride Raising Exhibit - El Museo Gallery (91 Allen St, Buffalo) is having a Pride Raising Exhibit to commemorate the first outdoor Pride Celebration in Buffalo and a long history of Pride and Politics in our city. We will have buttons, banners, miscellaneous memorabilia and the original proclamation for Buffalo's first outdoor Pride celebration in 1991, donated by Stonewall co-founder Carol Speser. The gallery will be open from 6 to 9 PM.
- Boy Toys - After the festival you can see one of our own, the handsome Randy Strokes, as he performs at Adonia's bar (Allen close to Main) at 10:30 PM. In fact, you won't want to miss any of these kings and queens. Come show some appreciation for LGBTQ performance artists from Buffalo and Rochester!
Sunday, June 5th
- Pride Parade! - We want you to march with us! Stonewall Democrats and Outspoken for Equality are marching together, and we will all be wearing Marriage Equality New York t-shirts in different colors to show off our rainbow. The parade is traveling from Lafayette and Elmwood down to Chippewa and Delaware, and line-up is at 11 AM. Step-off will be at 1 PM. If you would like to march, e-mail email@example.com with your T-shirt size and meet us at Lafayette and Elmwood. We're not sure yet if we will have a float due to budget constraints, but if you would like to help with that you can contact Kitty at the email above. Every bit will help so that ALL of our members can march. Can't wait to see you all there!
Wednesday, June 15
· Femme Finale - Reading by Madeline Davis: Madeline will be reading from her newly completed Memoir, Femme Finale, at 7:30pm on Wed, June 15 at The Screening Room, 3131 Sheridan Drive . It is at the eastern end of the little mall behind Northtown Plaza and used to house the offices of the DMV.
Tuesday, June 21st
- Summer Solstice Celebration of Spirit in Honor of Gay Pride: The traditional solstice to celebrate Pride Month will be held at 7 PM at Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave. It will be an affirming night centered on community and calling on clergy to preach love and end bullying from their pulpits. The Keynote Speaker is Buffalo Councilmember Darius Pridgen, and the event is hosted by Rainbow Spirit Rising. All, from all faiths, are welcome!