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A Letter from Mom about Marriage

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May 13, 2009

Last night, the New York State Assembly passed legislation that would permit same-sex marriages by a vote of 89 to 52. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has said he won’t schedule a vote until the legislation has enough support to insure passage. Governor Patterson has already promised to sign the bill once it gets to his desk, so the only thing standing in the way of marriage equality in New York is getting enough Senators to publicly support it.

Marie McGowan – proud mother of ACLU LGBT Project Attorney Sharon McGowan – wrote to her state senator, encouraging him to support the same-sex marriage bill. Here’s what she wrote:

Dear Senator Padavan,

I am writing to tell you that I want you to vote YES to allow same-sex marriage in our state.

I am a long time resident of your district. I live on 194th Street in Flushing and I have voted for you many times. I am a member of the Parish Pastoral Council of St. Kevin’s Roman Catholic Church where my family has been actively involved since 1970. My four children attended St. Kevin’s School; three graduated from St. Francis Prep and one from the Mary Louis Academy. Each one received one or more commendations from you during their school years, demonstrating your support and encouragement for our youth. I am grateful for your many years dedicated public service.

Senator Padavan, I have two gay children. Each is in a career of dedicated public service: my daughter is a Harvard-educated attorney working to protect the rights (and very lives) of LGBT Americans and my son is a Columbia-educated RN serving the homebound sick in the West Village of Manhattan. Each of my four children (now adults) deserves the same rights and benefits that being an American citizen and a New Yorker affords. Two can enter into a state-sanctioned marriage with all the protections that entails; two cannot. Civil unions are not enough; many of the protections of marriage are not afforded same-sex couples in a civil union. Separate is not equal, it never has been and it is not American.

Same-sex marriage in no way threatens the “institution” of marriage. It is very clear that traditional marriages are failing already because of societal pressures and norms. Allowing same-sex marriage will have no effect on that. To deprive one group of committed couples of the protection of the state is grossly unfair and un-American. The Catholic Church is wrong to put such intense pressure on the state to deny one group of New Yorkers the rights that are afforded to others. The Church can and will continue to set its own rules so the same-sex marriage law would not infringe on its freedom of religious practice. By so doing, the church will just drive more and more people away; persons loved by God just as much as any other. But that’s the Catholic Church’s business. It should stay out of the business of oppressing good citizens of the State of New York.

Senator Padavan, you are my state Senator. I ask, I demand, that you provide equal protection to these New Yorkers who only ask to be allowed to live lives of love and service unmolested by their own government and


Most Sincerely,

Marie P. McGowan

If you live in New York State, your senator needs to hear from you. Visit the New York Senate web site to find your senator’s contact information and send them a message urging them to support same-sex marriage in New York.

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