Sunday, May 27, 2012

“Completely, absolutely, and permanently married...”

Those were the ringing words that retired New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye chose on a recent Saturday evening, May 19th, as she said the final, magical words in the wedding of Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, and her partner, Attorney Kim Catullo.  
You may remember the famous withering dissent that Judge Kaye wrote in the early summer of 2006.  In an omnibus appeal in which the majority ruled that the NYState’s constitution “does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex,” Judge Kaye had scolded her court, reminding them that New York State had an honorable tradition of upholding equal rights.  She added this line: “... the court today retreats from that proud tradition.” [Here]
When Judge Kaye pronounced that Christine Quinn and Kim Catullo were married--”completely, absolutely and permanently”--, the entire audience leapt to their feet and cheered. [Here]  They cheered the newlyweds, they cheered Judge Kaye for her prophetic warning, and they cheered because they were witnesses to another step in the expansion of equal rights.  Many who were there--Governor Cuomo and New York State legislators--were also applauding their own efforts that had made same-sex marriage possible and legal in the state. 
Who is Christine Quinn, the courageous, City Council Speaker?  It certainly is time that we got to know this lady who is the odds-on favorite to become New York City’s next mayor, the city’s first female mayor and first openly gay chief executive of the city.
The Quinn/Catullo wedding guest list read like a Who’s Who of New York State Democratic leadership.  The Governor, both New York U.S. Senators and a sizable portion of the city’s and suburb’s Congressional delegations were there. 
Christine Quinn has represented Manhattan’s West Side on the City Council since 1999 and has been Speaker of the City Council since 2008. [Here]  As Speaker, she has locked horns with Mayor Bloomberg, but only rarely.  The most notable conflict was when she led the City Council’s opposition to Bloomberg’s cockeyed proposal to build a West Side Stadium, which most sane folks who know Manhattan’s traffic problems and housing patterns also opposed.
She has boycotted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the parade’s organizers have not allowed openly gay organizations to march or allowed anyone to display any gay signs, pins or banners.  (This has seemed strange to many of my Irish friends who tell me that gay organizations have for years been included in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Parade.)  Quinn has stuck by her principles in support of the gay community.  One wonders how long the Ancient Order of Hibernians will continue to discriminate against the LGBT community. 
Quinn is smart and forthright about her life and her life’s choices.  In her role as Speaker in the City Council she has shown a level head and the ability to reach compromises without the loss of principle.  
2013 should shape up to be an interesting year for Quinn’s career and for our political life.
Congratulations, Christine and Kim!  Also, congratulations to Judge Kaye, who was given the perfect moment to remind folks how right she had been six years before. 

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