Few things in the world are a bigger set up for disappointment than pinning your hopes to a politician. They find new and more incredible ways to let us down every day (I’m looking at you, guys who can’t keep your junk off of Twitter). However, Christine Quinn might just break that trend. Christine Quinn, the first lesbian and the first woman to be the Speaker of the New York City Council is currently the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to be the next Mayor of New York. Because she has too much spare time on her hands as she positions herself for a potential run for Mayoral office (she has not officially announced she is running) she’s also getting married to her partner, Kim Catullo.
Photo courtesy of Getty
Quinn’s quest to be the next Mayor, and her upcoming wedding have both been getting a lot of press lately. This week, The New York Times reported on the wedding and its political implications and last month, Elle magazine focused both on Quinn’s political style and on her personal story. Quinn has a reputation for being tough and a bit brash in her political life. She is passionate and driven and doesn’t take anyone’s guff:
“There was a piece of legislation once, a benefits bill in Albany, where someone sought my support. It covered spouses, but it didn’t cover domestic partners, and when I asked him why, he said they hadn’t really thought about that, but being gay was perfectly fine with them. I told him I didn’t give a rat’s ass what was ‘fine’ with them. Don’t ever come ask me to support legislation that excludes me from it. He tried to make a case why I should still bid for his bill, and I told him it wasn’t happenin’.”
Photo courtesy of Elle
It’s hard not to fall for a politician who is so unapologetic about being gay. There is no sense that she is softening the edges, or filtering herself to make others comfortable with the fact that she’s a lesbian. She’s just a lesbian and she could care less if you like it or not. She’s going to fight for herself and for the people she represents and look out if you think of getting in her way.
Quinn, who has been out since her mid-20s, has become one of the most prominent faces of this latest push for gay rights in New York City. When speaking about what was at stake in the fight for marriage equality, Quinn repeatedly cited her relationship with Catullo and their shared desire to get married while their fathers are still alive.
Quinn and Catullo, a lawyer, have been together since being set up on a blind date in 2001. The women bonded instantly over their shared experience of losing their mothers as teenagers and their close relationships with their fathers. When the marriage equality law passed last year Quinn tearfully discussed her excitement about planning her own wedding to Catullo. While it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that Quinn will be one of the most prominent politicians to marry a same-sex partner, it’s also clear that these are real people having a real wedding and a real marriage.
One thing Quinn never takes off is the engagement ring Kim had made for her shortly after the gay-marriage bill passed in New York last summer. “This was her mother’s engagement ring,” says Quinn, her eyes filling up. Kim had it reset with sapphires, “which is the birthstone of the month we met, September. She totally surprised me, because we said we weren’t gonna do engagement rings.”
Photo courtesy of New York Times
I’ll leave it to the political folks to discuss the political ramifications of the leading candidate to be the next Mayor of New York City marrying her longtime girlfriend. I am a sucker for some romance and prefer to revel in the fact that so many people who may not know many (or any) gay people are able to understand the joy and the love that surrounds this wedding just as they can understand the emotion behind giving a loved one an heirloom engagement ring. Sure there will be people at this wedding that weren’t present at mine or most people’s (we had no governors, senators, or celebrities) but at its core it’s the same. It’s filled with the same love, commitment, and hope for the future.
I count progress in many ways; by Quinn being the first out woman to be Speaker of the NYC Council, by Quinn being the frontrunner for Mayor in 2013, and by Elle magazine speculating that Quinn and Catullo “might also restore the sanctity (or at least the dignity) of marriage to Gracie Mansion.” Quinn and Catullo don’t have to restore the dignity of marriage, that’s not their job and no marriage needs that kind of pressure. However, the fact that the media speaks about them in those terms, shows how much the world, at least in some circles, has changed from a world in which marriage equality was going to destroy marriage to a world in which it might just salvage it. We have Quinn, and many others, to thank for that change. Best wishes to the brides.