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OUT IN NEW YORK


Same-Sex Marriage

Jo-Ann Shain and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy with daugther
VIDEO: MODEM | DSL

Jo-Ann Shain and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy, have been a couple for over 25 years. They share a daughter, a home, and have joint finances. They are married in every sense of the word except legally. Having been denied a marriage license, they decided to become part of a class action suit against New York City, where they reside. The suit argues that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the state constitution that guarantees equality and liberty for all New Yorkers.

The case is the first of its kind to be filed since the Massachusetts highest court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to full marriage under that state's constitution. The lawsuit is based solely on the New York constitution, which means that the state's highest court will have the final word on the case.

Photo of court house
"This is not just about filing joint taxes and getting each other's social security," Shain said. "This is about our daughter learning that families are built on love."

The issue of Same-Sex Marriage is at the forefront of the gay community. It cuts to the core of what it means to be a legitimate couple in this society. Although many couples have domestic partnership agreements and joint ownership of property, few feel that these are adequate substitutions for legal marriage.

Christine Quinn

VIDEO: MODEM | DSL

Photo of drag queens
In January 2006, at the age of 39, after serving on the City Council's City Council for almost 7 years, Christine Quinn was elected City Council Speaker. She is the first woman, and the first openly gay person to be named Speaker, which is the most powerful political position after the Mayor. A Councilperson for over seven years, she represents Chelsea, the West Village and Hell's Kitchen. She has supported domestic partner health care benefits, and led the successful fight against the West Side Stadium. She has been a champion of gay rights issues can often be seen on the front lines in the fight to legalize gay marriage.

STRANGE FRUITS

Photo of drag queen
VIDEO: MODEM | DSL

On any given night, viewers tuning into public access TV might see pregnant drag queens, vampires, baby abductions, and aliens. It's just another day in the zany world of "STRANGE FRUITS.", the outrageous soap opera that has been airing on public access television since 1997.

Eric Booth is the writer, producer, director, cinematographer, stage manager, editor and sole financier of the Bronx-based soap, doing everything in his spare time when not working as a marketing researcher. The show is produced on a shoe-string budget, with improvised costumes and props, and the actors are all unpaid. Some do it because they love it, while others enjoy an on-air sense of freedom they don't necessarily have in their everyday lives. "A lot of transgender individuals would like to have the freedom that Bebe expresses on film," says Billie Nelson, a transgendered person who plays the show's lead character, Bebe Montana. "I think they would like to have that bravado, that confidence and be able to parade it as she does. ...just to have that type of freedom is a powerful example and inspiring."

Photo of Eric Booth
In addition to "STRANGE FRUITS," Eric Booth also produces "FRUTA EXTRANA", a "queer TODAY SHOW" in which gay and transgendered hosts address issues of particular concern to the Bronx gay community.

(First Aired June 23, 2006)
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Same-Sex Marriage: The story of a family fighting for the legalization of same-sex marriage in NY State.View this story
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View this storyChristine Quinn: The first female and openly gay City Council Speaker.
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STRANGE FRUITS: A zany drag queen soap opera takes over public access TV.View this story
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