Senator Suzi Oppenheimer Expresses Deep Regret
Over Senate’s Failure to Pass Marriage Equality Legislation
There is a concept in my religious faith called tikkun olam, which commands us to “repair the world.” In my view, the New York Senate missed an opportunity to repair a part of the world when it failed to pass the marriage equality bill this week. As I stated on the Senate floor, marriage equality is not about religion, nor about morality. It is about civil rights. It is about equal rights. It is about the sharing of privileges and responsibilities afforded other committed couples in civil marriages recognized by New York State. These rights include those of survivorship, access to health insurance and pension benefits, the ability to make medical decisions for a loved one, custodial and property rights and a host of other legal protections.
Viewed in its most positive light, our democracy was strengthened by our ability to debate marriage equality and bring it to a vote before the full Senate. But we will not enjoy true democracy until we have equal rights and protections for all couples. I am reminded of that cardinal rule “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” My husband and I enjoy the many rights secured to us as a married couple. I believe that other committed couples deserve the same protections. Marriage equality is not just for the gay and lesbian community; it is for all of us a measure of our shared humanity. And so the fight will go on, the struggle will continue until we ultimately prevail.