There was no shortage of heroic figures during the debate over gay marriage in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, advocates in the State Assembly and Republicans in the State Senate who came to see the issue as a matter of civil rights—they all received their fair share of congratulations.
One figure in the debate, however, remained in the background: Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As mayor, of course, he had no formal role in the proceedings. But he has a voice, and a platform, and he used both on behalf of marriage equality. He, along with Mr. Cuomo, surely helped turn the debate in the Republican-led State Senate in favor of gay marriage.
Now the mayor will practice what he has preached. On July 24, barring any last-minute complications, he will preside over the marriage of two of his aides, John Feinblatt, his top policy adviser, and Jonathan Mintz, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs. The couple has two children and has been together for more than a decade.
Mr. Bloomberg is not one to flaunt his power as the city’s chief magistrate to perform weddings. He presided over his daughter’s ceremony and Rudolph Giuliani’s marriage to Judy Nathan several years ago. That’s it. By all indications, if he had a choice between carding a triple bogey and giving the government’s sanction to a couple in search of wedding bliss, he’d choose a triple bogey any day.
On this occasion, however, the mayor not only has made himself available to preside over the historic event, but will also serve as a host for the postnuptial festivities. The happy couple’s ceremony and reception will take place under a tent on the grounds of Gracie Mansion.
Mr. Bloomberg’s prominent role at the wedding, which will take place on day that same-sex marriages become legal in the state, is a good deal more than ceremonial. It is a statement of personal conviction. Same-sex marriage may one day be taken for granted, but it remains controversial, as the debate in Albany showed. Acceptance will come, no doubt, but leaders like Mr. Bloomberg can and will hasten the process by showing support for same-sex couples and their families.
On this issue, Mr. Bloomberg has delivered even more than he promised. Yes, he has been a staunch supporter of marriage equality and vowed to push for it in Albany. But by actually marrying a gay couple, he will go beyond advocacy to become part of this cultural revolution.
Well done, Mr. Mayor. And congratulations to Mr. Feinblatt and Mr. Mintz.