Michael P. Robotti, Esq.
New York, NY
December 6, 2009
Senator Joseph Addabbo
Senator Darrel Aubertine
Senator Ruben Diaz
Senator Shirley Huntley
Senator Carl Kruger
Senator Hiram Monserrate
Senator George Onorato
Senator William Stachowski
My name is Michael Robotti. I am a twenty-seven year old attorney living in Manhattan. As a gay man, and as a member of the Democratic Party, I am writing to express my profound disappointment in you for voting against the Marriage Equality Act.
Your vote was premised on protecting “traditional” marriage and was grounded in the conception of marriage as a static and unchanging institution. However, that rationale is unsound. The civil institution of marriage has never been static. In this country, marriage has steadily and consistently evolved alongside our nation’s understanding of human relationships. That is why married women may enter into contracts and sue in court. That is why biracial couples are free to marry. And, that is why married couples with irreconcilable differences may divorce. If marriage were a static institution, these freedoms would not exist in our society today. Marriage has evolved to reflect our society’s changing conception of committed and long-term relationships. The institution does not govern the way in which this conception develops. Thus, the tradition of marriage in the United States is the ever-increasing freedom to commit to an equal partnership with the person of one’s choice. Your vote was against that tradition.
Although your vote did nothing to protect the tradition of marriage in this country, it did succeed in sending a message to the people of New York. I am currently in a committed and loving relationship with a twenty-four year old man named Joel. The love that binds us is no different than that which binds heterosexual couples, and our connection is as strong as that which exists in any opposite sex relationship. But, your vote sent a message that, in the State of New York, our love is different; it is worth less than love between two people of the opposite sex. With one word – the word “No” uttered to cast your vote – you publicly proclaimed your support for a caste system that not only undermines the legitimacy of my relationship, but also says that my boyfriend and I are lesser human beings. Your vote was not just about marriage. It was a vote on the prevailing world-view, and you voted to reinforce the view that being a homosexual is an inferior existence. Put yourself in my shoes. Imagine being unmarried, but deeply in love, and being told that no matter how happy and successful your relationship ends up being, you can never get married in your home state; you can never have the same rights to which your straight friends and co-workers are unequivocally entitled. How would you feel in that situation? I feel inferior, and now I am certain that the State views me that way.
I recognize this is a challenging issue for you as an elected official because the majority of your constituents may be opposed to marriage equality. History, however, does not remember politicians who shape their positions and mold their beliefs to conform to the whim of the majority. History does not remember politicians who act only to ensure their longevity in office. History remembers leaders. Leaders are those individuals who stand for equal rights and human dignity when it is unpopular to do so. I ask you, be a leader, not a politician. Embrace the opportunity to use your position of power to advance human progression, to bring us as a people closer to the ideal of a society free from bigotry and hate.
You cannot change your vote on the Marriage Equality Act, but you can change your position on this issue going forward. Stand with us on the right side of history. Join with us as we battle for equality. Fight with us as leader. The LGBT community cannot do this alone. We need straight allies. I ask for your help.
Michael P. Robotti
P.S. Two books offer an excellent discussion of this issue: Why Marriage? by George Chauncey gives an historical overview relevant to the marriage equality debate; Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry by Evan Wolfson discusses the arguments for and against marriage equality. Please educate yourself about this issue.