On the first anniversary of the legalisation of gay marriage in New York, James Moore explores what impact it’s had.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 24 July 2012), will mark the first anniversary of the legalisation of gay marriage in New York City.
With the Big Apple being the largest, and the most influential state in America, it was believed that the new law would be the beginnings of a worldwide change in attitude towards marriage equality; however, according to reports released over the weekend, it is difficult to measure the law’s true effects.
Firstly, due to a ruling by which same-sex couples don’t have to identify themselves by gender, it is unclear just how many have tied the knot in New York. According to wedding planners, the marriage business is up, but certainly not booming.
And although President Obama pledged his support for gay marriage in May this year, no other state since New York has announced it will be following suit, with North Carolina voters actually banning it altogether.
However, it has had huge positive impacts in many other circumstances.
‘When it became a reality in New York, that’s when I think most Americans started to realise that this is something we’ll all be dealing with and started thinking about it seriously,’ said Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign. ‘The momentum from New York can’t be underestimated. After Massachusetts becoming the first state, nothing has had that influence.’
The national issue has certainly been catapulted into the spotlight by the bright lights of New York.
Carol Anastasio, who was among the first of the newlyweds when New York legalised gay marriage on July 24, 2011 revealed that she still has people coming up to her on a daily basis to offer their congratulations.
‘I work in a public park so I’m outdoors a lot and people will be walking a dog: ‘I thought that was you! I saw you in the paper! That’s great!’ said Anastasio, a city parks manager. ‘It’s really amazing how it just continues.’
Recently, Maryland and Washington passed same-sex marriage laws, but voters will have a final say in November on whether the measures will take full effect. But over in Maine and Minnesota, opponents of the law want to spend up to twenty million dollars to keep marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. So far, voters have rejected gay marriage in all 32 states where it has been on the ballot.
On the first anniversary it is difficult to say with any certainty the exact number of gay couples to have married, although according to the Department of Health, at least 3,424 marriages occurred just outside of the city by mid-July.
Many wedding planners are putting their not so bulging businesses down to the fact that many LGBT people had already celebrated their marriage before the new legislation began. They suggest that all people wanted were the official papers, rather than sixteen bridesmaids, two hours of speeches and a plate of buffet sausage rolls.
Although it is difficult to see the full impact gay marriage has had in New York and around the world, regardless of the numbers, many people are just happy to see the attitudes of people change. Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker who married her longtime partner Kim Catullo in May this year, said she was overwhelmed with the support she now receives.
‘I go to places where you think based on the sign over the door: This place is conservative, they’re not going to want to see the ring, ask how it was, congratulate me,’ but she said she, ‘couldn’t be more wrong’.
What impact do you think gay marriage has had in New York City? Tweet us @SoSoGay and give us your views.