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Monday, June 27, 2011

New York's Unsung Hero

Posted by on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

"You've probably seen the really interesting piece on 'The Road to Gay Marriage in New York' in the NYT," writes Slog tipper Shannon. "But I was really struck by this bit that underlines what you're alway saying about the political importance of being out to your family."

Shannon included the relavent chunk in her email:

Nobody ever expected Carl Kruger to vote yes.

A Democrat from Brooklyn, known for his gruff style and shifting alliances, Senator Kruger voted against same-sex marriage two years ago, was seen as a pariah in his party and was accused in March of taking $1 million in bribes in return for political favors. Some gay activists, assuming he was a lost cause, had taken to picketing outside of his house and screaming that he was gay—an approach that seemed only to harden his opposition to their agenda. (Mr. Kruger has said he is not gay.) But unbeknown to all but a few people, Mr. Kruger desperately wanted to change his vote. The issue, it turned out, was tearing apart his household.

The gay nephew of the woman he lives with, Dorothy Turano, was so furious at Mr. Kruger for opposing same-sex marriage two years ago that he had cut off contact with both of them, devastating Ms. Turano. “I don’t need this,” Mr. Kruger told Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, the Democratic majority leader. “It has gotten personal now.”

Mr. Sampson, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage, advised Mr. Kruger to focus on the nephew, not the political repercussions. “When everything else is gone,” Mr. Sampson told him, “all you have left is family.”

The only leverage adult LGBT children have over our parents, siblings, and other family members is our presence in their lives. If they don't respect you, if they don't accept you, if they don't support your equality, do not see them. Too many LGBT people worry about being rejected by their families when it should be—it must be—the other way around: our families should be worried about being rejected by us.

I met a girl—a lesbian teenager—at one of the receptions I attended over the last week in New York. She told me, tearfully, that her parents had thrown her out and they were refusing to see her until she "changed." I wish you could've seen the look on her face when I told her to tell her parents that they had it backward: she wasn't going to see them until they changed. She laughed, she hugged me, and she said that she'd never thought of it that way. I told her to start thinking of it that way. (Then I told her to stop smoking.)

"I think Ms. Turano's nephew deserves a shoutout, don't you?" says Shannon. "His personal courage has ended up helping a lot of people."

Agreed. I hope he comes forward.

 

Comments (19) RSS

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1
Sweet, the Senator pulled his head out of his ass.

The step-son definitely deserves the shout-out. And I hope the (hopefully no longer smoking) young lady you mentioned will soon see her parents again, because they changed.

Posted by blah on June 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM · Report this
2
I was actually thinking about that young man today, and hoping that he had reached out to Dorothy and Sen. Kruger. Or that she called her nephew, or whatever it took to put that family back together, now that the obstacle is gone.

The next time someone says "one person's actions can't change anything," point to that guy, the nephew who swayed a senator to legalize marriage equality for New York Fucking State.
Posted by Action Kate on June 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Zebes 3
I'd rather politicians vote in favor of social justice because they believe in it, and not because it will ameliorate family strife back at home.

But a just vote is better than an oppressive vote no matter what the reason, so whatever works.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on June 27, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
4
"The gay nephew of the woman he lives with"? I guess he couldn't have been against gay marriage for religious reasons, then, since he obviously thinks sex outside of marriage is A-OK.
Posted by trow125 on June 27, 2011 at 4:36 PM · Report this
5
"She told me, tearfully, that her parents had thrown her out and they were refusing to see her until she "changed." I wish you could've seen the look on her face when I told her to tell her parents that they had it backward: she wasn't going to see them until they changed. She laughed, she hugged me, and she said that she'd never thought of it that way. I told her to start thinking of it that way."

This is awesome!
Posted by Smhill on June 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
JulietEcho 6
That's some powerful motivation. It reminds me of something else you wrote (or maybe said on a podcast) about how politicians should be wondering what their grandkids will think about them when they come home for holidays. The youngest generation, and those coming up are going to have increasingly dimmer opinions of homophobic bigots.
Posted by JulietEcho on June 27, 2011 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Anne in MA 7
@3 - Except having a family member come out to you is a great way to start believing in equality. A lot of the opposition to gay marriage stems from wrongheaded assumptions about GLBT folks. Having a family member come out to you forces you to reconsider those assumptions.
Posted by Anne in MA on June 27, 2011 at 7:32 PM · Report this
8
From the end of that NYT article:

There, in a speech the public would never hear, [Cuomo] offered his most direct and impassioned case for allowing gays to wed. Gay couples, he said, wanted recognition from the state that they were no different from the [Republican] lawmakers in the room. “Their love is worth the same as your love,” Mr. Cuomo said, according to someone who heard him. “Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

Dan, was so proud to see you & Terry as grand marshals. Even wore my old "envy... slog... pride" shirt, but you were looking toward the other side of the street. I trust you had a great time here.
Posted by Brashion on June 27, 2011 at 10:17 PM · Report this
9
I hope we don't have to wait for Malia or Natasha to come out for Obama to finish evolving.
Posted by fnpdavid on June 27, 2011 at 10:34 PM · Report this
10
I hope we don't need to wait until Malia or Natasha come out for Obama to "evolve".
Posted by fnpdavid on June 27, 2011 at 10:39 PM · Report this
Roma 11
She told me, tearfully, that her parents had thrown her out and they were refusing to see her until she "changed."

How truly sad, that parents would treat a child this way. I wonder if the parents are religious.
Posted by Roma on June 27, 2011 at 10:53 PM · Report this
michael strangeways 12
Emotional blackmail IS a two way street, kids.

And, "divorcing" shit head relatives for ANY valid reason, is always a good idea. Why put up with racist Uncle Sam or homophobic Grandma Mary just because they're family? You pick your friends; why can't you pick your relatives? Hang out and have meaningful relationships with the relatives that treat you with love and respect.
Posted by michael strangeways http://www.seattlegayscene.com/ on June 28, 2011 at 1:08 AM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 13
Mr. Savage is absolutely correct. I walked away from bigotry and abuse over thirty years ago and haven't looked back. Sometimes the only commonality shared with so-called family is genetic material. In these instances, true liberation is the love and support found in chosen relations. Life is both too short and precious to be wasted on the ignorant and incapable--in this instance, those unable or unwilling to accept you for who and what you are.
Posted by Laurence Ballard http://laurenceballard.com on June 28, 2011 at 3:17 AM · Report this
14
Dan, it's quite possible that the "Senator's girlfriend's nephew" is in fact the Senator himself. See http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2011/03/s… , for example.

As an advice columnist, I'm sure you've seen this tactic before :-)

On the other hand, I'm happy to get a vote any way we can ... just glad the margin wasn't a single senator!
Posted by literalman on June 28, 2011 at 3:57 AM · Report this
15
What the nephew did feels like emotional blackmail, but he had every right to do it and the stakes were real and high.
Posted by DRF on June 28, 2011 at 8:04 AM · Report this
16
I've been struggling with this issue on a personal level - My parents are christians and believe that being gay is a sin. Dad made a trip to Seattle to visit me a while back and asked me not to show affection to my boyfriend. I told them how it made me feel and the trip was postponed but the issue was never resolved. It's gotten to where it's ignored but it is still in the back of my mind. He and my mother are very respectful to my boyfriend and my dad especially really likes him, but he is unwavering on the issue. I love my parents and I think that I can change their minds not by cutting them off but by showing them the love he and I have for each other. On the other hand, cutting them off would be very painful for me because other than this issue, I am very close to my parents. But now I'm beginning to think it's what needs to be done.
Posted by gentlepie on June 28, 2011 at 9:33 AM · Report this
17
Speaking of unsung heroes...upstate, y'all.

http://www.buffalonews.com/entertainment…
Posted by Emily_LA on June 29, 2011 at 4:07 PM · Report this
20
This whole premise is interesting. I stopped talking to a cousin of mine after the Prop. 8 decision out here in California. She explained that she had voted yes against my right to marry. It was a whole 2 years before we spoke again. She apologized and said that she was wrong. I think it took the reality of the loss of someone (me) of value in her life for her to really get it.

Posted by Suedehead on June 30, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
21
Wait!! This senator " lives" with a woman??!! As in "living in sin?" how come these Bible-bangers who are " defending " marriage never address hetero's who are clearly in contempt of this "sacred institution" by sinful co-habitation !?? Praise the Lord. Heh,heh.
Posted by Vicckyjane on June 30, 2011 at 5:47 PM · Report this

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