Our Sweet Triumph

By Nixon, Cynthia | Newsweek, July 25, 2011 | Go to article overview

Our Sweet Triumph


Nixon, Cynthia, Newsweek


Byline: Cynthia Nixon

The actor was engaged for two years but couldn't legally marry. Then New York said 'I do.'

I will always remember where we were when it happened. I had just finished speaking at the Pride service at New York's gay synagogue, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. The excitement was electric: we knew the vote was coming before the night was out and that it would almost surely be in our favor.

After the service we walked to the subway. Our whole family (including our 4-month-old baby) plus a couple of friends were waiting on the platform when word came through on a stranger's BlackBerry that the state Senate had passed marriage equality. They called out to us, we cheered, and others did too. Somebody offered to take a picture to commemorate the moment, and it's such a great shot: all different ages, down in the subway, looking so proud and so, well, New York-y.

I showed my mother the photo later, and she immediately started talking about where she was and what she was doing in 1945 when word came that the war was over and victory was ours. She instantly made the link in her mind. There had been all this enormous effort, people were so hopeful, and then it came: the sweet triumph after the long, hard battle.

My girlfriend and I have been engaged for more than two years, and we had not made plans to get married anywhere else. This had been our last shot. Our feeling was "If you don't pass it this session, we're just gonna need to pick another state and go there." But New York did us proud that night.

As a nation, I think we're at a turning point in the fight for marriage equality. For the first time, a majority of Americans say gay people should be allowed to be married--not just allowed to have civil unions, but to marry. The distinction is important: when you say to somebody, "This is my wife" or "This is my husband," everybody understands. A civil union? Well, what is that? Will it be recognized in a hospital? Will it be recognized by your employer? Will it be recognized by your insurance company? If it costs them money, probably not. …

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