In December of 2008 I posted a blog article articulating my support of gay marriage, and why the real estate industry should support marriage equality.
Tonight, by a margin of 33-29 with four Republicans crossing over, the State Senate of New York agreed with me, paving the way for the bill to be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. This is a very, very good development for the State of New York and for all of us as human beings. For the first time in my memory, New York is actually ahead of the curve in something, and that something, Liberty, is no trivial thing.
In 1998, while selling real estate in Rochester, NY I was approached to buy an ad in what was then known as the Rainbow pages, sort of like a directory of gay and gay friendly enterprises. It seemed like a smart business move. My broker at the time, good man that he still is, simply said that everyone's money was green. And I remember like yesterday how my first client from that ad explained to me that before he made an offer on a home he loved that he wanted to show it to his daughter.
Yes, I learned, he came out when he was married and couldn't continue to live a lie to please family and society. He had to be him. It was no short discussion, but in the dozens of transactions I have closed since with LGBT clients I have heard so many stories from good, wonderful people about how it simply is not easy to be gay, and sometimes it is hell. For a guy who hates bullies, this has always broken my heart.
When I started my firm in 2005, one of the first niches I spought was to put the company on every gay-friendly business directory I could find. And thanks in part to dozens of fantastic clients from the gay and lesbian community, it has helped sustain and grow my company through one hell of a crappy market cycle. But beyond that I have always felt like I was making a difference, lighting my own candle in a way in a society that still snickers and kvetches about treating good people with dignity.
For our part, it hasn't always been easy either. A few years ago I moved my office from my home in no small part to some anonymous harassment for working with my chosen clientele. It wasn't the only reason, but it was a consideration. Someday, I hope that a gay friendly business of any kind is as necessary as a buggy whip. But for now, with the stakes as high as they in in a matter as important as housing, I continue to do what I do. I am proud that my state, not known for being too swift lately, is ahead of the curve as my professional trade organization is with regard to equality.
I hope the new law brings more people to our state, which has lost almost 900,000 people since the 2000 census. I hope more marriages mean more homes bought, more lawnmowers, more refrigerators, and more energy to our state. I sincerely believe that I am on the right side of history, and that tonight's news is not a legislative anomaly. I am happy for all my friends and clients that a little more sun can shine on their face. And I am ready to go to work with more people, gay and straight, who value liberty for all, no matter who they choose to spend their lives with.