Voice for Equality: Tom Colicchio

Thomas Patrick "Tom" Colicchio is an American celebrity chef. He co-founded the Gramercy Tavern in New York City, and formerly served as a co-owner and as the executive chef. Gramercy Tavern opened in 1994 and was voted Most Popular Restaurant in New York City by the Zagat Survey in 2003 and 2005. He sold his interest in 2006 and is no longer affiliated with the restaurant. He is also the founder and co-owner of the Craft restaurants. Colicchio is the recipient of five James Beard Foundation Medals for cooking accomplishments. He has been the head judge on every season of the Bravo reality TV show, Top Chef.

On August 27, 2009, after a contestant on Top Chef expressed her dismay at being asked to cook to celebrate an upcoming wedding when LGBT people are denied the right to wed throughout much of the world, Colicchio published the following comments about marriage equality on the Top Chef blog on Bravotv.com:

First of all, part of the problem with the issue is that it is framed by opponents as a discussion of whether gay people should get special rights. This is specious – yes, special legislation or court decisions grant them the right to wed in a particular state, however this is done to ensure that they share equal protection under the law by finally being able to avail themselves of the same rights as everyone else. They are not seeking special treatment, just equitable treatment.

Second, religion has no business being part of the discussion. When a couple is wed in a house of worship, the officiant may be performing a religious rite, but as far as the law is concerned, that officiant has been authorized to perform a civil function, plain and simple. And even were marriage equality to be legalized by the state, no one would be holding a gun to the heads of the clergy to require them to perform a ceremony that their faith or personal creed does not condone. Just as some rabbis would not perform my marriage to my wife because I wasn’t Jewish, clergy can decline to perform marriages between same-sex couples; LGBT couples can either find clergy willing to officiate or can be wed in a civil setting. The idea that religious leaders are continuing to shape state law is just wrong.

The institution of marriage should be available to all. The idea that you can have a life-long partner and not make decisions for them in a hospital, not share in insurance benefits, not automatically have parental rights unless you are the birth parent, is just flat-out wrong.

Freedom to Marry salutes Tom Colicchio as a Voice for Equality!

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