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Gay couples fight for equality

The Senate’s defeat of the marriage equality bill last week has left some same-sex couples in Queens feeling “disappointed.”

            Gary Paul Gilbert and Murdoch Matthew, residents of Jackson Heights, met in Indiana in 1983 and have been together ever since. They were wed in Montreal on September 9, 2005 and also received a domestic partnership from California.

            “We should not have to go to Canada to get married,” Gilbert said.

            Along with saying he felt disappointed over the 38 to 24 vote against the legislation, Gilbert said he felt betrayed. He also said it was defeated by more votes than he anticipated.

            “We have to keep fighting for equal rights, educating people,” Gilbert said. “I think the population has moved along more quickly than the State Senators.”

            Gilbert and Matthew noted that there are 1,324 rights and protections that they would not receive if they are not considered married. Just one example of this is being able to visit the other in a hospital.

            Prior to the Senate’s vote, the couple had said that passing the marriage equality bill in New York State “would take the cloud out from over us.”

            Meanwhile, Jamaica couple Lisa Robinson and Ruby Wilson also expressed their disappointment with the vote.

            “I was very disappointed because I was hoping that we had gotten to a place where we could offer people the right to marry,” Robinson said. “It was just very disappointing to me that New York of all places voted it down.”

            Robinson and Wilson met in 1992 and went on their first date in December of 1993. They became domestic partners in 2000 and had a commitment ceremony in 2003.       The couple has not gotten married yet because they said they want to wait to do so in their home state. Robinson said that she does not think it is right that “we have to travel to Canada to do something when we feel we should have the right to do it right in New York.”

“I don’t know how you can deny American citizens, as the Declaration of Independence said, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Wilson said in an interview this past summer.

            Robinson said that the next step that needs to be taken is having more education.

            “People really have to think for themselves and not allow fear to be instilled,” she said.

            Wilson also said that “there comes a time when we have to grow up” and “put away childish things.” She said that people get stuck in a mindset where that they refuse to change, adding that leaders have to help people “come to higher ground.”

            In the meantime, Wilson said they are just hoping for a change.

            “We praying,” she said.

            Gilbert and Matthew attended a recent rally to speak out against the vote. Gilbert said that the senators who voted against the bill need to be replaced and “we have to show what happens to politicians who go against their constituents.”

            “The status quo in New York State that same-sex couples can largely have their legal marriages from other jurisdictions recognized here but cannot celebrate their marriages here is too confusing and cumbersome,” Gilbert also said. “The State Senate must remedy this situation by passing a marriage equality bill as soon as possible.”

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