By Kate Clinton on June 28, 2011

Congratulations to all who worked so hard and so long to bring Marriage Equality to the empiric state: those who stood vigil in Albany, those who lobbied the halls, those who changed their minds, those who wrote checks, those on whose shoulders this victory stands. I’m still in a NY-pinch-me state of shock.

First, the vote feels like partial redemption from New York’s embarrassing Weinergate. That story didn’t really rate a “-gate” coverage, but photos of Viagra-enhanced penises are much easier to, uh, grasp than the fine points of power shifts in the Mideast or debt- ceiling debates.

That Weiner saga was a dizzying gay-straight reversal. It was such an old-school gay story – salacious details about penile practices, ab shots, video entrapment, tearful denials – and yet it was about a straight guy. Meantime the LGBT people were fully clothed, lobbying, and strategizing for the legitimate right to marry, just like straight people.

A special shout-out to NY’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for his disciplined leadership. Amazing what justice can be accomplished when a leader leads. Of course it is sad that that leadership should be so remarkable. See: “the president is evolving.”

The turning point in the debate came when a pro-forma religious exemption was included in the bill. Anti-gay churches had wanted a guarantee that they could not be forced to host gay marriages in their churches or halls. What a pleasant wedding. Everyone standing around glowering at each other. “I’ll give them wine, but it won’t be the good stuff.”

The surprisingly tepid resistance of the NY Archdiocese was not because the Revs. Dolan or Diaz had better things to do. It is because the Catholic Church does not have a moral leg to stand on. And when some in the church chastised Gov. Cuomo for living in sin with his girlfriend – he can’t remarry because he’s divorced – I think it put some vendetta in the Venn diagrams of voting districts.

In all the follow-up stories, one thing is clear. The most successful strategy for achieving full LGBT justice is still coming out of the closet. In story after story, it was an enraged gay brother, a challenging lesbian daughter, uncles, aunts, neighbors, co-workers, co- state-Senators who were visible and vocal. They changed hearts and minds and finally votes.

And come July, the New York Times is going to have to ad some pages to the Vows section for gay wedding coverage.

If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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