Michael Zuyus could not find any online information about state-by-state marriage rights or where the major politicians in each state stood on gay rights.
So he started such a website: www.statesthatallowgaymarriage.com .
"I can't say that I've been shocked by anything I've learned [ while doing the research ] . Well, I take that back. In researching some of the politicians' stances, I have to say that, yes, I am still shocked at some of the hateful rhetoric that comes out of people's mouths," said Zuyus, 33, who lives in Queens, N.Y.
"Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, for instance, actually compared [ gay ] marriages to incest when she vetoed a civil-union bill passed by the Hawaii Assembly. That's shocking to me."
Zuyus, who is single, is a gay entrepreneur and activist. He spent a couple months researching the data for the site and also contracted out some of the work.
"We clearly have a long, long way to go [ for full equality ] , but, if you look at where we were just six years ago, when the idea that lesbian and gay couples could be legally wed was a largely crazy idea, to where we are now, it's amazing," Zuyus said. "We can get married now in five states and the District of Columbia. California, New York, New Jersey, Maine, and Rhode Island are all states where we could gain access to our right to marry within the next year or so. So I am hopeful."
Zuyus said he is not surprised with the number of politicians who do not support marriage equality. "Few politicians have the courageor are in a positionto actually be leaders on social issues," he said. "They are largely followers. Public opinion is only this year starting to shift in our favor, so it's not surprising that so many politicians still oppose our right to marry."
Zuyus said he is committed to maintaining the website until gays can marry in all 50 states. "My short-term goal is to get the positions of all state lawmakers on the record, since this is where the action is in terms of advancing our rights," he said.
The website has received extensive media exposure this summer since launching, and Zuyus has received reactions to it from Steven Goldstein, chair and CEO of Garden State Equality, and David Twombley, one of the plaintiffs in the Iowa lawsuit that resulted in marriage for same-sex couples in that state, among others.
Zuyus also runs www.getsteady.com, a gay/lesbian dating site, and www.outartists.com, which helps LGBT artists gain exposure.
"I [ recently ] celebrated six years of sobriety and I try and help inspire others to improve their lives or just reach for their goals through my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/icecreamtruck," he said. "When I am not working on my projects I enjoy photography, which you can see at www.michaelzuyusphotography.com ."
The popular website Craigslist removed its "adult services" listing Sept. 3, replacing the phrase with the word "censored."
According to Wired.com, Craigslist is facing increasing pressure over sex services advertised on its site, with everything from sex trafficking to alleged murder connected to it. ( Philip Markoff, the accused killer, recently committed suicide on what would have been his first wedding anniversary to Megan McAllister. )
A group of 17 state attorneys general ( including Illinois' Lisa Madigan ) recently sent a letter to Craigslist demanding the termination of the adult services section.
In a statement posted on her website, Madigan said, "The trafficking of children, young girls and women for sex is a horrifying reality. Unfortunately, the Internet and Web sites, such as Craigslist, are being used to prostitute people against their will. I've battled along with other Attorneys General to have Craigslist remove its erotic services section and now its adult services section in order to stop it from promoting the horrific crimes that children and women endure when they are trafficked.
"If today's action by Craigslist prompts other Web sites, such as backpage.com, to respond to the public's demand to stop turning a blind eye to the devastation human trafficking causes, it will protect the lives of children and women in Illinois and across the country."