Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The Crown Diner in the Bronx is a few blocks from Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Supreme Court. It’s where vendors and fans, law clerks and lawyers grab donuts and omelets at the corner of Gerard Ave and East 161st St. And it’s where opinions on same-sex marriage are as varied as the vast menu and donuts on the shelf.
As the Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage, a recent Pew poll shows that more Americans are changing their minds in favor of it and that support for same-sex marriage is on the rise.
Still, in New York where same-sex marriage was legalized two years ago, there are corners of the city where opinion is divided.
Donna Mason, a teacher in the Bronx, was on her way out of the Crown Diner after a quick bite before heading to school. She said she supports same-sex marriage, and that older generations in her family who haven't been supportive in the past are starting to change their opinion.
“Look at the movies, look at TV. Modern Family is like the No. 1 show,” she said, referencing the ABC sitcom that features a gay couple. “The world is changing and they need to move along with the change.”
Meanwhile, at the end of the counter, Thomas Reed is perched on a blue swivel chair. Reed, a deacon from Bushwick, Brooklyn, slurped coffee and ordered grits and bacon. He said his views on marriage are rooted in the Bible, and will remain unchanged.
“I believe God made man for woman and woman for man,” he said. “If God changes it, it'll sway my opinion. But God ain’t change it and he left it just as it is. And man is taking it and tearing it in all kinds of directions.”
In a booth in the back, Jessica Fernandez and her 10-year-old daughter Ciara Flores have a different view.
“Getting older, you're like, ‘Hey if they're happy, who am I to judge them?’” Fernandez asked.
Ciara sliced through a pile of pancakes and said she feels the same way. But not her friends: “They say they shouldn’t be married because they’re the same type of genre.”
“Gender,” her mother corrects.
“I went and told them, ‘But if they feel happy with who they are and if they really love the person, then why not? Why can't they get married?’. ... They say ‘Well that's your opinion, and not ours.’”