Monday, June 13, 2011

Open Letter to NYS Senators Hannon, Skelos & Fuschillo:

Dear Senators Hannon, Skelos, and Fuscillo:

As a former Baldwin resident and Past President of the Nassau County Young Republicans, who worked tirelessly on your campaigns for a decade, I am asking that you stand for what is right and support Marriage Equality in New York State.

Kemp, in the late 1970s, you ran for NYS Assembly for the first time. I met you daily, running ahead of you to make sure that we knocked on every door in South Hempstead for your first campaign. I spoke to voters, delivered literature, and worked phone banks on your behalf. While I certainly can’t claim credit for the victory that launched your life-long electoral career, I can recount the endless effort I put into your campaigns. You accepted that help gratefully. You didn’t ask whether I was gay or straight, and it didn’t seem to matter.

Dean and Charlie, your very electoral survival is due, in part, to the tireless efforts of gay men on your behalf. When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980 and again in 1984, there were serious concerns that he could not carry a state such as New York….and that his coattails (or lack thereof) might damage ‘local’ Republicans. None of you complained when Terry Dolan, a gay man, founded and operated NCPAC (the National Conservative Political Action Committee) out of a Greenwich Village rowhouse, to insure a lopsided Reagan victory in New York. Rolling into the 1990s, you all were nervous when Bill Clinton was polling double-digits ahead of George HW Bush, and, later, Bob Dole on Long Island….but that didn’t stop you from calling on the expertise of Art Finkelstein – another gay man – who had practically set up shop out of Nassau Co GOP Headquarters, beginning with his engineering of Al D’Amato to the statehouse. As Clinton steamrolled over the GOP in NY, Finkelstein coordinated media messages that resulted in victories from Pataki down to yourselves. And in spite of the Democratic wins in NY and nationally, you all managed to hang on to your seats for three decades.

All with the help – acknowledged or not – of gay men you on whom you were more than happy to rely.

I organized rallies, manned phone banks, coordinated enthusiastic youth for your events, ran local headquarter operations, and responded to every request.

And so now, as an “out,” gay man in his 50’s, I ask this of you: Do the right thing, and take this opportunity to end the apartheid treatment of your gay and lesbian constituents.

I now live in New Hampshire, arguably a far more conservative state than New York. We have had full Marriage Equality for a year and a half now. The sky has not fallen. Churches have not been forced to do anything contrary to their beliefs. Marriages across society have not suffered. Children have not been harmed.

Rather, people have avoided bankruptcy and unaddressed illness because they’ve been covered by their spouses health insurance. Children have been able to refer to their parents, rather than “mom and her friend.” Hospitals and banks have been able to afford spousal recognition on marital property. Couples have been afforded security and equality. And society has continued, stronger than ever.

Gay men and women are all around you. They have voted for you, strategized for you, and campaigned for you. They have the same dreams for their children, the same hopes and dreams for their future as any other of your constituents.

Do the right thing, and be a part of history in New York.


T. Thomas Fitzsimmons
(f/k/a Thomas Simmons)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your letter. I am a constituent of Mr. Hannon. My wife and I had to take up residence out of state (NY) in order to marry. Since then, we have lived in Mr. Hannon's disrict (and home town) and have supported his reelection. However, should he vote no on this issue this time around, I will actively campaign and fund raise for any candidate opposing him. Pity.

Anonymous said...


The letters you are receiving, together with various forms of public and private pressure to cave on gay marriage, are certainly attempts to flip your vote. Politics today has unfortunately devolved into the tyranny of the rich, powerful and well-organized. But make no mistake, the mob-like tactics used today to publicly and privately threaten you, if successful, may only embolden such thuggery on a whole host of other issues. Equal rights to our fellow citizens in the NY State LGBT community is certainly a worthy goal, which is completely achievable without overturning the unique nature of traditional marriage, which has existed for all of human history. A parallel body of state law, such as civil unions legislation can meet the civil rights of our fellow citizens, without overturning traditional marriage. We can be equal under the law, while being unique and distinct, under traditional morals.

Tully Fitzsimmons said...

Dear "Anonymous," allow me to respond to your points:

1)My original letter has nothing to do with the "rich" (I live hand to mouth), the powerful (I am one person), or the well-organized. If you want to see those folks, take a look at the Archbishop, and tyhe National Organization for Marriage. They have more money, power, and organization than I do.

2) You refer to the "Unique nature of marriage," but I question if you understand what that means. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the MAJORITY of Americans living as couple were NOT married by any church. In fact, state governments recognized any such committed relationships as "common law marriage," because the STATE saw that it had an interest in promoting stable economic households.

3) Permitting same-sex marriage will not 'overturn' traditional marriages any more than permitting interracial marriages "overturned" same-race marriages.

4) Civil Unions do NOT provide equality, any more than segregated schools and separate-but-equal restrooms provided equality. Furthermore, surrounding states do not recognize a civil union as a marriage, so if you 'civil union' your partner in NY but work in Massachusetts, that union is NOT considered a marriage or marriage equivalent and the spouse in ineligible for healh insurance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

This message is from the first anonymous poster. As I said in my post, I am a constituent and neighbor of Mr. Kemp. I have been a supporter of his reelections. He is my elected representative. I live in his district. As such, it is his job to represent me. If Mr. Kemp or any other official which I choose to represent my interest is not doing so, I will support a candidate who will. Very simple, very American, very legal. ...nothing thuggish or threatening about it.