June 26, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Nationwide celebrations of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision did not skip Jackson Heights, an epicenter for LGBT activism and culture in New York.
The United States Supreme Court voted five to four Friday morning that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.
The ruling comes just as the City’s gay pride weekend kicks off, and on the heels of the 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade, which marched along 37th Avenue earlier this month.
Councilman Daniel Dromm, the founder of the Queens Pride Parade, called the decision “a resounding victory.”
“Today’s decision is the culmination of a struggle that began over four decades ago when same-sex couples first approached the U.S. Supreme Court looking for justice for their families,” Dromm said in a statement released after the ruling. “As someone who has been in the gay rights movement for over 40 years, it is difficult to express my sentiments. I never thought I would live to see this day.”
Dromm will host a celebration of the ruling at the Jackson Heights Post Office, located at 78-08 37th Ave., at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Out Jackson Heights founding member Alfonso Quiroz said, “we are ecstatic over today’s Supreme Court ruling, and realize that this is a major step forward in the Civil Rights movement.”
However, Quiroz went on to say, “There is much more work to do to protect the many LGBT immigrants that live right here in Jackson Heights.”
“LGBT immigrants often face unique and daunting challenges and we need to provide the right tools and resources for this very vulnerable population,” Quiroz noted. “Today is a day to celebrate and to redouble our efforts on many other issues.”
Jackson Heights resident Scott Kramer said the ruling will have a direct impact on his life and marriage.
“My husband’s family lives in Michigan, which is a state where gay marriage was not recognized, so now we can feel much more comfortable going there,” Kramer said. “
“All I can think about is how happy I am for not only the LGBT community, but it makes me happy for the entire population of the United States,” Kramer said.
Celebrations extended throughout the Borough as well.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who said he is the only openly gay married member of the City Council, gave a tearful statement when he heard about the ruling, just before he was to speak at an unrelated press conference.
“This is an amazing moment for our nation, our families, deeply moving obviously for me and for [my husband] Dan,” Van Bramer said. “Our relationships and our marriages are fully equal.”
Astoria resident Brendan Fay mused on the history of the gay rights movement leading up to this decision.
Fay helped found the annual St. Pat’s for All parade in Sunnyside in 2000, after he was arrested when trying to march under an LGBT group’s banner in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue. He was also a co-organizer of the first protest rally at City Hall in 1998 calling for marriage equality.
“Today I was thinking of all the activists before and since Stonewall who march for equality and had sit ins at marriage bureaus and insisted that our same sex love and relationships be granted equal respect and dignity,” Fay said.