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00:39

With This Ring

Hudson

Marriage is much on my mind of late, as it should be with tomorrow's 25th anniversary of our own nuptials. On Saturday, we rode the stately and elegant MV Commander up into the Hudson Highlands, as we did a quarter century ago in that summer of 1986. Farther in in Albany, of course, the definition of legal wedlock was shifting - frankly, something that would have not been imaginable in the 80s. And while laurels for political bravery are rightly laid on the noggins of Governor Cuomo (whose father held the State House when the Artist and I tied the knot) and the legislators who crossed the aisle, but I think it's also important to credit a movement for gay rights that grew every broader and more organized.

From my vantage point (which is partly formed by the factors of my age and work), this is the story of classic long-tail organizing - and of the successful evolution of a tenacious movement. Forged not so much by the Stonewall riots as by the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, the coalition was once narrow, angry and poorly focused. Yet it grew, in savvy and professionalism - and it also surfed the breaking waves of real societal evolution, the demographic shift to a younger generation that lacked ingrained prejudice against homosexuality.

I'm filled with joy at this development - for my gay and lesbian friends, certainly. But also for New York, and for society. This is real change; the dying embers of a legalized prejudice hissing in a final smoking spark.

Sure, there will be a reaction. "For every person who said after Friday night’s vote, “Hooray” or “Thank God” or “It’s about time”, there was at least one person screaming in rage," noted Lance Mannion, and he's right. But here's a prediction: New York's sheer audacity as a big state - the Empire State - will help to normalize this broadened American view of marriage. As James Wolcott wrote, "it is a victory for fairness, equality, tolerance, enlightenment, conscience and integrity."

And as I rode the Commander into the Highlands with my bride of 25 years, whose flashing eyes stir my soul even now (no, especially now), I thought a fine thought: 25 years from now, some other New Yorkers will be celebrating their silver anniversary.

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Schweinderl