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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

2011-JUNE-14/15. State Assembly passed SSM bill.
Bill has almost enough support to pass Senate.

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The acronym LGBT refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and transsexual communities. SSM refers to same-sex marriage.

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This topic continues from a previous essay

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Author's full disclosure and rant:

The author of this essay has difficulty retaining his normally placid composure when faced with Archbishop Dolan's narrow, exclusionary definition of marriage. Some married couples -- same-sex or opposite-sex -- marry with the intent of not raising a family. I did this myself at the age of 51 in an opposite-sex marriage. Other couples are in very happy marriages like my own in which both parties are past retirement age and cannot pro-create. I do not appreciate Archbishop Dolan denigrating my non-procreative marriage as being without significance.

I also get irritated at the statements of so many religious leaders who claim that marriage has always meant one man and one woman. In the Bible alone, Lamech. Esau, Jacob, Ashur, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Rehaboam, Abijah, Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin, Belshazzar and Herod the Great had multiple wives. Solomon had 700 wives and many hundreds of concubines.

Somehow, the U.S. survived its first change to the definition of marriage during the 19th century, when it allowed loving committed African American couples to marry. It survived the second change in the 1960s when it allowed loving, committed mixed race couples to marry. I have a hunch that it will survive if a few percent of the population -- loving, committed same-sex couples -- are allowed to marry.

Sorry to be so partisan, but I am a heavily prejudiced person in favor of "liberty and justice for all" including equal access to marriage. I am a Canadian, so perhaps I don't know any better.

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Response to Archbishop Dolan's essay:

A number of readers posted comments on Archbishop Dolan's essay. 1 They were generally negative. For example:

  • "Megan," referring to loving committed same-sex couples who want to marry, wrote that most Catholic same-sex couples wish a civil, not a religious marriage:

    "You do realize that nobody is asking to receive the sacrament of matrimony, don‚€™t you? That is where the church‚€™s influence should begin and end. I do not understand how the Catholic church, or any other religious group for that matter, has a right to say anything at all about the civil rights of the people. This has NOTHING to do with the church. This country was based on freedom of religion. We should also be granted freedom FROM religion. As someone who grew up Catholic, and still volunteers at a Catholic retreat house (with my Jewish partner, no less), your statements break my heart."

  • "Noelle" wrote:

    "I second what Megan said! No one is asking to receive marriage as a sacrament, so the church‚€™s opinion should not influence legal rights. I was raised Catholic, and statements such as Archbishop Dolan‚€™s make me ashamed to be associated with the Catholic church."

  • "Steve" wrote:

    "Hurray for Archbishop Dolan. I love it when our Catholic leadership speak the truth. Thank You Archbishop!!! God Bless You!!!!!"

Peter Montgomery of Religion asked:

"Is Dolan really suggesting that if the elected legislature and elected governor of New York pass a law to end discrimination against same-sex couples, that would be equivalent to a totalitarian government deciding 'who lives and who dies?' If so, Dolan is forfeiting his right to have his arguments taken seriously by legislators and anyone else." 2

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2011-JUN-15: State Assembly passed SSM bill by a comfortable margin:

For the fourth time, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The vote was taken on the evening of Wednesday, 2011-JUN-13. Results were 80 in favor, 63 opposed, and 3 abstentions. 3

Assembly bill sponsor Daniel O'Donnell (D-Manhattan), who is one of the few gay state lawmakers, said: "It feels different this time because I'm very hopeful it will pass the Senate and become law this year." 3

Governor Cuomo, who is strongly in favor of SSM said:, "We are on the verge of a pinnacle moment for this state."

The New York Daily News conducted a poll of its readers. Asking "Do you think the state Senate should pass a law legalizing gay marriage?" On 2011-JUN-17, the vote was 72% Yes, 27% No, 1% not sure.

The newspaper reported that: "Just two of the 32-member GOP conference publicly support legalizing gay marriage. Four others are on the fence. 3

Steve McLaughlin, (R-Melrose) said: "I'm very mindful of the problem with this and I understand as much as I can being a straight man, a married man -- I support your human rights, but I also support traditional marriage."

Ron Canestrari (D, Cohoes) said: ""I really believe that whether it's Thursday in the Senate, next week in the Senate, or whenever, that the tide of history is in our favor -- and it's only a matter of time." 4

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2011-JUN-15: Marriage Equality Bill is one senator's vote away from being passed by Senate:

Kenneth Lovett of the Daily News reported:

Senator "... Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga) -- in a dramatic reversal from his earlier opposition -- became the second GOPer in as many days to give his blessing to same-sex nuptials, bringing Senate support to 31 votes.

Thirty two votes are needed to approve a gay marriage bill [that] Gov. Cuomo formally introduced Tuesday.

McDonald's change of heart came hours after Archbishop Timothy Dolan led a band of religious groups hustling to halt the momentum."

Senator McDonald told reporters:

"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this." 5

Assembly bill sponsor Daniel O'Donnell said: "I've moved from cautiously optimistic to outright optimistic." 5

With 58% of New York adults favoring SSM and only 36% opposed, lawmakers will risk losing substantial numbers of votes at the next election if they oppose this bill. A 2011-APR-06 poll among New York adults shows that SSM is supported by:

  • A 22% margin of support among all voters.
  • A 30% margin among Whites.
  • A majority support by Blacks.
  • 59% support among Roman Catholics. This is the highest of any organized religious group in the state. It showed a massive rejection by the laity of the Catholic heirarchy's teaching.
  • 74% support by young adult voters.
  • 78% -- the largest support of any recognized group -- among non-Judeo-Christians, a group that lumps together Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, freethinkers, Scientologists, etc. 6

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This topic continues in a separate essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Timothy Dolan, "The true meaning of marriage," Archdiocese of New York, 2011-JUN-14, at:
  2. Peter Montgomery, "Gay marriage bill totalitarian says head bishop,", 2011-JUN-15, at:
  3. Kenneth Lovett, "New York Assembly passes bill to legalize gay marriage 80-63; Legislation now heads to Senate," NY Daily News, 2011-JUN-15, at:
  4. Jimmy Vielkind, "Fate of same-sex marriage bill unclear in Senate; passes Assembly 80-63," Times Union, 2011-JUN-16, at:
  5. Kenneth Lovett, "Gay marriage now just one vote shy of becoming law in New York despite Archbishop Dolan's objections," NY Daily News, 2011-JUN-15, at:
  6. "Q 19: Making same sex marriage legal in New York State," Page 4, Siena College Research Institute, 2011-APR-04/06, at:

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-17
Latest update: 2011-JUN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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