This fall, I will take on one of the proudest roles in my life: best man. My best friend will be marrying his boyfriend and has asked me to witness their lifelong commitment to one another. They originally talked about having their big day in Vermont or on a cruise, but now the location for the wedding might be the Big Apple. The explanation for the change is simple:
On Friday night, New York became the sixth state to grant marriage equality. What may be more shocking is that the marriage equality bill passed through a Republican-majority state senate. Four republicans voted with 29 democrats to allow same sex couples to share in the responsibility and commitment of marriage.
I could not be more excited to see another state join in this groundswell movement. It was just eight years ago that Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. And while six states in eight years may seem like paltry numbers to some, it is but the tip of a massive iceberg.
I am excited about New York for many reasons. The first is that it goes to show marriage equality is not a conservative or progressive issue. Despite the national GOP party platform, several Republicans in New York ditched the party line. Even when Democrats controlled the New York state senate, they could not pass marriage equality. I hope that conservatives across the country look at this vote and realize that national marriage equality is a future we must all fight for.
On a personal level, I am incredibly thrilled for my LGBT friends–several of whom are exchanging vows this year. We are a new generation who is shedding the history of homophobia in this country and embracing each others’ uniqueness with love. I hope that one day, my friends do not have to go to Massachusetts or Iowa or New York to get married. I hope that in the near future, Nebraska will grant a marriage license to my friends who only want to show their friends and family that they take their relationships seriously.
It is time for Nebraska to make a change. Marriage equality may be an issue that comes from the top-down in the Cornhusker state, but we can be pushing common sense legislation for the LGBT community. We should include sexual orientation and gender identification in our non-discrimination protections. People should not have to worry about losing their jobs or homes because of who they are. We should pass anti-bullying legislation to make it clear that we will not tolerate intolerance in our schools.
The age of homophobia and LGBT intolerance is coming to a close. It will never fully disappear from our national landscape, just as racism and sexism have never fully disappeared. But New York’s passage of marriage equality was the next step in this great fight for equality.