Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.
Advocates Grow Weary as Same-Sex Marriage Bill Remains in Limbo
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 03:56 PM
As the New York State legislature slogs through an extended session in Albany, the long wait has taken a toll on the hundreds of advocates who have flooded the capital building in the last weeks and vowed to stay until issues such as same-sex marriage are duked out.
The fate of the same-sex marriage bill still languished in the Republican-led Senate on Tuesday, meaning more days of missed school, more nights in a crammed hotel room and more hours-long trips to Albany for many demonstrators on both sides of the debate who have descended on Albany.
"It's taxing," said Melissa Kleckner of Hoboken, N.J., who is rallying in favor of same-sex marriage. "We were hoping we were going to go home on Friday in victory, and we ended up going home to an angry rally that we put together on the fly because nothing is happening. Everything is stalled and it’s just tiresome. It's frustrating. We're all exhausted."
Kleckner said she woke up at 4 a.m. Monday to get back on a bus to Albany — with her 9-year-old daughter Avalina Gray in tow.
"My mom woke me up in the middle of the night because she told me they were going to be voting this week and there was nobody to drop me off at school, so she just took me," said the fourth grader who is missing her final week of school.
Drag queen Daniel Azraea Bracciale, who is sharing a two-bed hotel room with four people and has spent several nights sleeping on the floor, said packing for three days can get complicated.
"I brought a small make-up kit for drag," Bracciale said. "I brought drag clothes. I brought boy clothes. Most of the clothes I'm wearing now are also my boy clothes. I feel this state capital wear.”
Some advocates are trying to drive back and forth each morning to avoid the challenging task of packing for an indefinite period of time.
Michael Kicinsky said he plans on making the 2-1/2 hour trek from Earlville, N.Y., each day until there is a final decision. Kicinsky opposes same-sex marriage and said the trip is a small price to pay.
"This is a sacrifice for everybody," he said. "Our legislators have caused an interruption in everybody's personal lives."
And Rose Ann Hermann, a same-sex marriage supporter, has been driving from Washington Heights every day since last Wednesday.
"I go home and realize my house is a mess because I haven't been home," she said. "I manage to do laundry, and I basically put the dishes in that I left from breakfast into the dishwasher, because except for breakfast, we're basically not eating any meals at home."
The long sessions away from home means barely seeing family. Jason McGuire, executive director for evangelical and anti-same-sex marriage group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said he makes the four-hour drive from Rochester to Albany every Monday after spending the weekend at home
"I come prepared for about a week at a time," said McGuire, who spent Father's Day ironing and drying socks, "and so the gist of it is, I better get home quick or I'm going to have my own marriage problems to deal with."