Gay Teens Respond to Marriage Equality Act

Sixteen year-old Stanley Chan’s wish to be married in France may not be such a distant dream after all. 

Now that same sex marriage is legal in New York, Stanley like many gay teenagers, can see their future marriage plans come true. Though, it may be years before they walk down the aisle, gay teens still feel affected by the passing of the Marriage Equality Act.

The act allows gay and lesbian teens the chance to have a choice they never had before.

“There are [many alternatives to marriage], but it’s good to have every option available. I know a lot of LGBT individuals that don’t want to get married,but they still want the option to do so,” said Stanley, a member of Stuyvesant High School’s Gay Lesbian and Straight Spectrum club.

 â€œI used to wonder whether or not I’d be able to get married here in 20 or so years whereas now, I know I will be able to,” he said.

The legalization also provides LGBT teens the knowledge that they too have the same rights as heterosexual teens.

Sixteen-year-old Isaac Park, a gay student at Queens High School for the Sciences, said, “I’m glad we’re given the same God-given rights. Everyone should be able to love… This is one step further towards acceptance.”

However, not all teens agree with this.

“The legalization may make others believe in growing acceptance, but I know that I am not anywhere near close to accepting,“ said 17-year-old Lillian Puk.

Lillian, who  participated in a public protest against same-sex marriage on July 24, said, “This is not going to change the way I feel.”

Anthony Dong, another LGBT teen, realizes this.

Indifferent to the legalization, Anthony, a member of an Ultimate Frisbee team, said, “People will not just start accepting because of this [Marriage Equality Act]. Actually I think they [people against same-sex marriage] will get angrier now, since they finally lost a very long battle.”

It certainly was a long battle for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Back in 2004, 25 same-sex partners in New Paltz were married by Mayor Jason West. Days later, the Ulster County District charged West with only 19 of the misdemeanor charges for performing them.

The New Paltz marriages sparked countless court cases contesting their  constitutionality. More than seven years later, on June 24, the Marriage Equality Act, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, was passed in the New York Senate.

The legalization made New York the 5th and largest U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriages.

Thirty days after the law passed, more than 800 same-sex couples were married in New York City, according to USA Today. 

“These marriages took forever to happen, so I am so happy for these marriages!” said 14 year-old Kristie Goon, a LGBT teen and member of her school’s soccer team.

“[I am also happy] for myself because now I can see myself with a ring and a fluffy white wedding dress,” cheered Kristie.

Members of the Harvey Milk School are also enthralled by the legalization.

“Personally and professionally, I have been thrilled by this [Marriage Equality Act],” said Thomas Krever, executive director of the Harvey Milk Institute, which runs the school that acts as a  refuge for LGBT teens who have been bullied in school for their sexual orientation.

Krever says LGBT teens at the school and all around the nation will be affected by the legalization because it “sends a clear message that they have a future that will provide them all with the same life as heterosexuals.”

But, like most teens the concept of marriage is a ways off for Park, the Queens high school student. “I’m only 16.,” he said.”I don’t think I’m going to get married for a while now.”

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