It's a travesty and an embarrassment that New York state still refuses to recognize the basic right of one citizen to marry another. We are angry about this state of affairs, as are the people behind "Unmarriage Until Gay Marriage," a movement to "unmarry" straights across New York City (and boycott the wedding industry) until gay marriage is legalized in New York. This Valentine's Day at 1pm they'll be holding a mass "unwedding" ceremony at Bethesda Fountain, presided over by Reverend Billy. We spoke to one of the organizers, Savitri D., to see what is was all about.
What the hell is wrong with New York state government?
New York State government is unimaginably corrupt, paralyzed in a failing web of partisan deceit and status panic. We have no leaders, save Tom Duane, who said this after the terrible vote last month: "Today's vote against Marriage Equality makes me very angry. Promises made were not honored. The LGBT community, and all fair-minded New Yorkers, have been betrayed. I am enraged, deeply disappointed and profoundly saddened by the vote today."
Why this, why now?
Because there is absolutely no reason to deny gay people the right to marry, because the exceptionalism that allows heterosexual people to marry but not gay people is the same exceptionalism that kept women pregnant in the kitchen and people of color enslaved, because marriage is as civil a right as there is.
Are you optimistic about gay marriage in New York?
Being an activist means being optimistic somewhere deep in your soul. Yes, legalized gay marriage in the state of New York is inevitable. In the immortal words of Emma Goldman, "Love is the defier of all laws!"
How much impact do you think symbolic protests like this have?
Seriously, this isn't a protest: it's a mass ritual, a declaration of solidarity. The idea is to start taking seriously the role hetero people can and must play in this struggle. It's not enough to have LGTB friends, or be "sympathetic" or even "tolerant"—we have to do more than that. We hope this ritual will be a starting point for all its participants and that it will send a message to other hetero people—let's work together and get gay marriage done and legal so we can move on to the many other issues effecting the LGBT community disproportionately, like homicide, violence, wage and job discrimination, depression, homelessness, and suicide to name a few.
What are the details of the event itself?
Join hundreds of couples at The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park this Valentine's Day for a mass ritual in support of the rights of ALL people to marry whomever they wish. Send a strong message to elected leaders in New York State and the rest of the country (and the world!). Marriage is a civil right, unmarriage until gay marriage, no marriage until gay marriage.
Brides and Grooms will suspend their vows in a ritual officiated by Reverend Billy. Tragic and hopeful love songs will be sung. Participants will be issued an official unmarried certificate suitable for framing.
The unwed are also welcome to join the ritual as we declare a moratorium on all weddings until gay weddings are legalized and California Prop 8 is overturned.
UnMarriage until GayMarriage: Take the Valentine's Pledge Sunday, February 14th, 2010 1pm sharp
To sign up please email firstname.lastname@example.org