As I read the news about the recent advances of marriage equality across our country, I think it is easy for many to get distracted by the politics and rhetoric on this issue and lose sight of what is really at its heart: the equality of freedom.
No matter how politically charged the discussions about marriage equality may get, the question is really a simple one: Do the rights and privileges we offer citizens include everyone in our country, or only some of us?
I believe that allowing gays and lesbians the freedom to marry is an idea whose time has come. Though my opinion is no doubt influenced by my family's public role in political life, I still approach this from personal experience, as I think most people do. For me, this is about treating all of my friends, and all of our brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren the same as I want to be treated. Equality under the law and personal freedoms are what make America the greatest country in the world, and they are core values that I hold as a Republican.
As I recently wrote after speaking at the Log Cabin Republican convention: "People may always have a difference of opinion . . . but championing a position that wants to treat people unequally isn't just un-Republican. At its fundamental core, it's un-American." I believe most Americans want our nation to succeed. Marriage equality moves us to a place where more of us can do a better job of taking care of our families.
Gays and lesbians are a vital part of our communities. They are doctors, teachers, firefighters, emergency personnel and neighbors. In this way, marriage equality is also about supporting good citizens and strengthening our communities. When a committed gay couple seeks to declare their love for one another and get married, the whole community benefits from the added stability and strength of that family. On top of that, we don't give up anything by sharing responsibilities and protections with those whom we love.
That's why I support marriage equality. It is the best and fairest way to grant gay and lesbian neighbors and family members the protections and responsibilities that they need to provide for their family and give back to their community.
As Republicans, we understand the importance of strong communities. Last week, the New York Assembly passed the marriage bill with the support of five Republican Assembly members. Now, the bill goes before the state Senate, where Republican senators will make the difference on whether the bill becomes law or dies. Once again, New York has the opportunity to make a statement about Republican values and fairness by passing the marriage bill.
I believe marriage equality will soon come to New York. My hope is that Republican senators will offer their support and make the difference to pass the marriage bill.
By voting for the marriage bill, they will make a strong statement about supporting New York families, strengthening New York communities and demonstrating that equality and fairness are fundamental values of New York Republicans. It will leave a legacy that will make us all proud.