September 4, 2006
To the Editor:
Congratulations to Benjamin Weinthal for his article about Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, and the interview he and Corinna Waffender conducted with the mayor (“He’s Gay, and That’s Okay,” Aug. 31-Sep. 6). The two pieces were in depth and not at all just about LGBT issues. It was extremely informative; I had to make sure that I wasn’t reading the Economist. Too often our LGBT publications favor glitz and glamour over substance. Wowereit is an important leader who happens to be gay. By simply being “Gay and Okay” (his words), and being a successful and flashy mayor of an international city, “Wowi” is a leader of the new wave of gay public officials across Europe. He is hip, successful, and, yes, gay.
I spent a year studying in Germany and consider myself a Europhile. I would have never have thought that I’d learn more about a German leader in Gay City News than in the New York Times. “Wowi” indeed. Thanks for shining a light on one of our movement’s bright stars.
Cabin John, Maryland
The profile of Wowereit and the interview with him are available at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_535/hesgayandthatsokay.html and http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_535/nottoberepresessed.html.
More On Marriage Strategy
August 29, 2006
To the Editor:
I feel uncomfortable with Dan Pinello publicly suggesting that the Empire State Pride Agenda is alienating its marriage ambassadors (“A Failure of Vision at the Pride Agenda,” Aug. 17-23). He has made his point—and he is entitled to his perspective, but it’s important to note that his perspective is not shared by all marriage ambassadors.
The Pride Agenda is not a single-issue organization, and for that I am glad. Marriage equality is an important issue, but it is not the only issue that this organization’s mission calls for. If the Pride Agenda were to only support candidates that support marriage equality, it could greatly jeopardize the important and necessary work that must be done related to protecting transgendered individuals from discrimination and youth in our schools from harassment and violence.
I personally think that Dan acted irresponsibly by publicly attacking this organization. I support the Pride Agenda because of its strong, dedicated, and ethical leaders—and for their strategic foresight to make the decisions that will benefit our community in the long run.
September 6, 2006
To the Editor:
After reading Alan Van Capelle’s response to Daniel Pinello’s commentary criticizing the Pride Agenda’s endorsement process (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 31-Sep. 6), I felt an obligation, on the part of the thousands of tireless marriage advocates, to take issue with his organization’s commitment to “doing whatever it takes to win marriage equality in New York.”
There is no question that the Pride Agenda has proven itself a formidable leader in the fight for marriage equality. Van Capelle rightfully proclaims that “organizing support for marriage in communities of faith and making allies of organized labor are things the Pride Agenda has never done before.” However, he does a disservice by understating the struggle many of us have fought—and continue to fight—by asserting that “the marriage issue has really only been before New Yorkers for three years since Canada legalized marriage and then Massachusetts did.”
In 1998, more than 100 activists, scholars, clergy, and elected officials, including state Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, took to the steps of City Hall for the first National Freedom to Marry Day rally in New York. Numerous forums at the LGBT Community Center have been held, including “Where Do We Go From Here?” and “Same-Sex Marriage: For Better Or For Worse?”—the latter of which allayed fears held by some that the push for the freedom to marry is a threat to our sexual libertarian roots. Congressman Jerrold Nadler joined us on one of six yearly Tax Day protests held outside the Farley Post Office on 31st Street to dramatize the disproportionate share of taxes the LGBT community pays to subsidize an institution we have no access to. We have publicly committed to our loved ones during the Wedding Party’s annual ceremonies on LGBT Pride Day.
As early as 1998, Gay and Lesbian Advocates for Change, an ad hoc organization, initiated a successful candidate questionnaire and forum on LGBT issues, including same-sex marriage. GLAC protested then-Congressman Charles Schumer, due to his 1996 vote for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, with signs reading “Born Again Bigot?” during his first Senate race in 1998. We celebrated our successful meeting with the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after persuading him to vote “nay” on DOMA. And, with many community groups and advocates, including Matt Foreman, who then headed the Pride Agenda, several years before Canada and Massachusetts, we won agreement from Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried to sponsor a companion bill to Senator Duane’s marriage equality bill.
One can appreciate the Pride Agenda’s predicament of not wanting to alienate supporters of other keys issues, such as transgender rights and safe schools for LGBT youth, but it behooves the group to appreciate same-sex marriage as an umbrella issue rooted in many, many years of yearning for justice. During the early years after Stonewall, LGBT pioneers stormed the city Marriage Bureau demanding an end to marriage discrimination—they surely would have loved knowing that 53 percent of New Yorkers were on our side!
Upper West Side
The writer is a founder of Marriage Equality and co-founder, with Brendan Fay, of the Civil Marriage Trail. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Daniel Pinello essay can be found at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_533/afailureofvision.html. Alan Van Capelle’s response can be found at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_535/letterstotheeditor.html.
August 21, 2006
To the Editor:
I’d like to thank Christopher Murray for his powerful “Letter to an Old Teacher” (Aug. 10-16). I imagine the public airing of such an uncomfortable and thus typically unadressed phenomenon made his former teacher very nervous, as it should. I also hope that writing such a raw and emotional piece was cathartic for Christopher, as it was for me to read it. I had several experiences at that age which seemed somewhat enjoyable and voluntary to me at the time. Only later in life did these experiences reveal themselves to be the source of some of the issues that I found myself having relating to other men sexually. My innocent participation in the abuse does not exonerate the behavior of the adults who took advantage of my trust. That they did not succeed in creating a cycle of abuse within me is a small miracle, and one that many do not have the strength to avoid. Thanks again to Christopher for bringing this difficult but important issue to light.
Christopher Murray’s essay can be found at http://gaycitynews.com/gcn_532/lettertoabnoldteacher.html.
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