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Queens’ gay community salutes Obama

LGBT advocates and allies sign a giant postcard to be sent to President Barack Obama after his support for marriage equality last week. Openly gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm (r.) arranged the event.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The western Queens LGBT community and their allies sent a giant postcard to the White House last Thursday, thanking President Barack Obama for coming out in support of same-sex marriage.

“I never thought in my life that I would have ever see a sitting president support marriage equality,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who is openly gay.

Coming on the heels of a proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution which passed with 61 percent of the vote and decreed a marriage between one man and one woman to be the only domestic legal union recognized in the state, Obama announced in an interview with ABC that he was in support of same-sex marriage.

Previously, the president had said he was personally against same-sex marriage, although he was in support of civil unions for same-sex couples. He credited his family, friends and Vice President Joe Biden, who had announced his endorsement of marriage equality May 6, with changing his mind.

New York became the sixth state in the country to recognize same-sex marriage in July 2011. Queens’ other openly gay councilman, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who is planning to be married to his longtime partner Dan Hendrick in July, said in a statement he was moved by the president’s support.

“I remember shedding a tear the night President Obama was elected, as so many of us were filled with hope for him and our country,” Van Bramer said. “Today, that promise of hope is fulfilled yet again for so many in such a profound way.”

Dromm arranged a news conference to send Obama a giant thank you postcard last week at the Jackson Heights post office, at 78-02 37th Ave. While some have credited Obama’s change of heart to political reasons or have criticized him for not supporting what many see as a civil rights issue earlier, Dromm said what was important was that he had done the right thing.

“[People] can evolve on this issue and they can change their mind on this issue,” Dromm said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a speech in support of same-sex marriage and criticized North Carolina’s amendment Sunday after the vote at the University of North Carolina’s commencement speech. The university audience greeted his address with applause.

Gary Paul Gilbert, of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said that while New York state’s marriage laws give same-sex couples 1,324 protections, they are barred from 1,138 additional federal rights.

“[Obama] has recognized that only civil marriage can give same-sex couples the same rights and protections as every couple,” Gilbert said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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