One important fact often overlooked in yesterday's disappointing marriage vote in the New York State Senate: Black senators overwhelmingly voted for marriage equality. Of the Senate's ten black members, ONLY 2 voted against it, Shirley Huntley, who once said she would never support gay marriage "even for a million dollars" and rabidly anti-gay Ruben Diaz Sr..
Several of the most emotional and eloquent speeches supporting marriage equality were delivered by black senators. JUMP to watch the speeches.
Ruth Hassell-Thompson's was perhaps the most heartbreaking: Her late brother was gay. "This is the first time I've ever mentioned this publicly," she explained, adding that he moved to France in the l950s to escape the bitter prejudice and homophobia in America. She also told the story of growing up in a family of ministers. "And now my sister is the family minister and she would not agree with my vote. My church condemns this ... but even I, who received some 99 percent plurality of the vote, was not elected to be the moral arbiter of the people...That is between them and their God. People deserve the right to choose and have dignity"
Hassell-Thompson was brought to tears and was consoled by Thomas K. Duane, the senate's sole openly gay member and the marriage equality bill's lead sponsor.
Brooklyn's Eric Adams also delivered a stirring speech. The former NYPD sergeant has often spoke out gay rights and said the marriage equality vote "would be a defining moment" of his career. Adams read a list of the states prohibiting marriage equality and added: "Alabama...Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi...North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. What do they have in common? At one time or another, they all sold blacks as property and participated in legal slavery." Adams added that New York had a history of "setting the tone" for the country and "must set an example."
Adams and Hassell-Thompson's speeches are required viewing. Watch their powerful testimony WHEN YOU JUMP.