PERSPECTIVE: A Golden Opportunity for Change

State Senator Marty Golden, who represents portions of Brooklyn from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, is a name familiar to many of us. He has made it a habit to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. Not that anyone asked him to, but he has, and one might say he's a little obsessed with the topic. And not in a good way.

His latest salvo at our community: signing on to a lawsuit trying to block Governor David Paterson's order to state agencies to honor our marriages performed legally in other states and countries.

What Marty may not understand is that there are many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people and couples in his district, and some of them are already married.

Senator Golden joined this lawsuit filed by religious extremists and other homophobic legislators.

The lawsuit represents not only a violation of the separation of church and state, but also a violation of the rights of gay and lesbian married couples living in Brooklyn and throughout New York.

Unfortunately, Marty Golden is not alone. There are a handful of elected officials in Brooklyn who also would deny their neighbors the same benefits and responsibilities they have in their own relationships. Fortunately, they are in the minority.

There are six members of the Assembly from Brooklyn who voted against marriage equality in 2007 – all Democrats. They are Dov Hikind, Nick Perry, Steven Cymbrowitz, William Colton, Peter Abbate, and Annette Robinson. Another two-Alec Brook-Krasney and Karim Camara-didn't even have the courage to vote.

To ensure this never happens again, Lambda Independent Democrats has launched the 2008 Conversion Tour in Brooklyn.

The Conversion Tour is about changing hearts and minds so that the next time these individuals have an opportunity to vote for marriage equality, they will do just that. Or we will find someone else who will.

We applaud our new governor's action and that of the courts, but it is demeaning that we still have to drive to Massachusetts or fly to California or Canada to get hitched in order to have our relationships recognized here at home.

We should be able to marry the people we love right here in New York, in our own houses of worship or at the Municipal Building. We must pass marriage equality in the Legislature.

We reached out to all eight legislators in May to request a meeting to sit down with them and talk – neighbor to neighbor. Only one has responded.

But whether or not they are professional enough to respond won't end the conversion effort – they must understand that they cannot slither away and hide. Democratic members of the Legislature who vote against our rights will be held accountable by our community.

If Minority Leader Malcolm Smith and Brooklyn County Leader Vito Lopez want a Democratic majority in the State Senate, Marty's seat seems golden.

The authors are co-presidents of Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.