COMMUNITY GEARS UP FOR MARRIAGE RIGHTS SEP. 20 & 28

Having been denied the right to marry by New York’s highest court this summer, supporters of marriage for same-sex couples are getting down to business with a series of public meetings and rallies around the state, starting with two here in the city later this month.

The Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s LGBT lobby, is hosting a community forum on marriage equality at the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 20 at 6 p.m., followed by meetings in Buffalo, Rochester, Long Island, and White Plains.

Queens activists are holding a rally to support marriage equality on Thursday, September 28 at 7:15 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, 37-06 77th Street. It is being hosted by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Democratic District Leader Daniel Dromm, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, and the Pride Agenda and will be attended by what Dromm calls a “surprising number” of elected officials and religious leaders from the borough who support the right of gay couples to marry.

The Pride Agenda’s Manhattan event will be facilitated by veteran activist Ann Northrop, a longtime moderator of the sometimes fractious ACT UP meetings a decade and more ago. In a release, the Pride Agenda said, “Community members are invited to attend the nearest forum to get an update on the issue, share their views, and discuss next steps with the Pride Agenda as it takes the issue to the state Legislature.”

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the group, said in the release, “Now that the fight is moving to the Legislature, it is crucial that we strategize with the community.”

After the court defeat, Van Capelle said that the community can pass a bill opening marriage to same sex couples, which has been going nowhere in Albany but will be introduced by Eliot Spitzer if he is elected governor, in two years “if we put our minds to it.” Dromm, a gay activist since the mid-1970s, said, “Two years seems quick, but it’s coming. I’m not sure if it will be two years or 10 years,” as Spitzer once predicted.

“We want the community to put pressure on their legislators to have the legislators who already support us to put pressure on their colleagues” to sign on as sponsors to a marriage equality bill, Dromm said.

–Andy Humm

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