Many New Yorkers, whose state was among those in recent years that turned a long-overdue gender-blind eye on marriage, rightly celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision last week on the Defense of Marriage Act. Locally, we were pleased to learn that the plaintiff in this landmark case was a part-time Southampton resident, Edith Windsor.
On a smaller scale, but also of major significance, at least for the South Fork, is the opening this month in Sag Harbor of the area’s first support and social center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
As society as a whole moves toward greater acceptance of its gay members, concern about students in the middle and high school years has lagged behind, according to many accounts. This has been true here.
David Hernandez’s tragic decision to commit suicide last year was prompted, at least in part, by bullying by his peers about his sexual orientation. And on an even smaller scale, harassment and lack of empathy for those who are perceived as different is routine, according to many parents. The new G.L.B.T. center, to be housed at the Old Whalers Church, will give young people like David a place to turn, to find encouraging people who say it is okay to be who you are.
Until the center opens in mid-July, the nearest similar refuge is in Bay Shore — an impossible distance for many of the kids who might need it. Those involved in getting the South Fork facility going are to be heartily congratulated, as is the church for hosting it.
All of our children, no matter what path they travel toward adulthood, must be assisted and nurtured along the way.