Ten Years Ago Today: “On Thursday morning, July 6, I was at my desk when the clerk’s office in Albany called … the news hit like a punch to the stomach.“

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July 6, 2016
Love Unites Us

The following blog post is an excerpt from Losing Forward: The Marriage Case in New York by Jeffrey Trachtman, a partner in the New York law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.

This chapter is part of the anthology Love Unites Us: Winning the Freedom to Marry in America, edited by Lambda Legal's former Executive Director Kevin Cathcart and Leslie Gabel-Brett, Director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal.

“The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t sweep forward with an unwavering trajectory. While these losses [in New York, Maryland and Washington at the time] brought the movement to a low point by 2006, each bent the arc slightly by highlighting the flimsy justifications for harming the millions of families excluded from civil marriage. Each loss spurred statewide grassroots organizing and political action that led, within a few years, to enactment of marriage equality. These victories in turn built momentum that yielded complete victory less than a decade after the initial losses.”

[. . .]

“In early July, with the decision [on the New York marriage case] about to be issued, I drove down from Cape Cod with my daughter, then sixteen, so we could both be present for the potentially historic moment. On Thursday morning, July 6, [2006] I was at my desk when the clerk’s office in Albany called to say that the Appellate Division decision had been affirmed [and same-sex couples would not be allowed to marry]. Though we had anticipated this outcome, the news hit like a punch to the stomach.

"The next morning, my daughter and I drove back to Cape Cod, eager to return to a jurisdiction where gay people could actually marry. Toward the end of the five-hour ride, we played the entire intensely emotional score of the musical Rent. The final, echoing chant of ‘No Day but Today’ faded to silence just as we pulled up to the house and my daughter hopped out of the car. The melodramatic timing pushed me over the edge, unleashing the torrent of tears I had been holding back for more than a day.”