Editor’s note: This guest post is by Susan T. Bodansky, a straight ally who cares enough about marriage equality for all citizens that she traveled to Albany, New York — where same-sex marriage is currently being debated — to support our cause. After learning of her visit to Senator Díaz’s office, I asked her to write a very detailed account of everything that happened, which she generously provides below.
The obvious question is how can Senator Díaz continue to fulfill his duties as a New York State Senator, and represent all his constituents, when he consistently places the Bible and his position as an ordained Pentecostal Minister, above the Constitution?
Last Monday several friends and I attended the Rally for Marriage Equality in Albany. We had already met with our local legislators and were waiting at the elevator. Two gentlemen came by and mentioned that they had come from Senator Díaz’s office and suggested that we try to stop by there as well, even though the Senator wasn’t there. Feeling that it was important to let him know we were there and that Marriage Equality was important to us, we decided to visit his office.
Inside we found his two assistants – a middle-aged white woman and a young black woman. We all signed his guest book and explained to the older woman why we were there. We told her that we believed that marriage was a civil right and that we hoped Senator Díaz would vote to extend this right to all citizens of New York.
She very nicely explained that she would pass along our message, but that she knew the Senator felt that this — same-sex marriage — was against what he believed in from the Bible. I said that I was sure that the Senator was aware that in the United States there was a separation of church and state and that the Bible wasn’t a part of the Constitution.
Others around me, including the gentlemen who had urged my friends and me to stop by Senator Díaz’s office also reiterated the viewpoint that all New Yorkers should have the right to marry, and one of the gentlemen gave the assistant a copy of the bills we were supporting.
She also told me that while she wasn’t speaking for Senator Díaz, she has heard him say many times that the Constitution doesn’t specifically state that there is a separation of church and state, but that Congress and the government was not allowed to mandate any specific religion.
It was very disconcerting that we would have to argue such a well-established concept as the separation of church and state. I went on to point out to her that the young black lady at the next desk might not have had the opportunity to work in this building 50 years ago without the civil rights acts passed then, and that none of us who were women, including herself, even had the right to vote less than 100 years ago.
She continued to listen to all of us very politely and promised to relay all of our information to Senator Díaz.
Until last Friday, I was completely unfamiliar with Senator Díaz other than having heard his name, since he is not my local representative. As I was leaving his office, I noticed a large, smiling poster of the man hanging on the wall. Only then did I realize that he was a man of color. I found it so appalling that such a man, who is old enough to remember the Civil Rights Acts, and to have so benefitted by them in his lifetime to have become a Senator – that this man in particular would deny civil rights to others was shocking and of course hypocritical.
In many ways, the entire day last Monday was surreal to me. As a child of the 60s, I was too young to have participated in any of the protest marches of those days. I was stung by the irony that back then, many young adults wanted to “live together,” while our parents exhorted us to get married. Now, as the parent of adult children, I find myself trying to convince “the establishment” to let people get married.
After all, what is more conservative and more of a basic civil right than getting married and having a family?
Susan Bodansky was married in New York State where she has lived her entire life. She hopes that her two children and all of your children will also be able to marry whomever they want in New York.
Image via a video by Blabbeando.
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