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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

Marriage Equality law: reactions continue

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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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Reactions to the passage of the law (Cont'd):

  • sad face happy face Senator Jim Alesi was the first Republican in the New York State legislature to commit to supporting the same-sex marriage bill. His fortunes have changed since the vote. At least one group, having been unable to convince sufficient senators to vote against marriage equality on the grounds of reason or religious beliefs, has decided to attack the four Republicans financially by funding opposition to their re-election campaigns. City Newspaper/Rochester NY reports:

    "Alesi's future in local and state politics is uncertain. ... He has said he'll run for reelection in 2012, but the state Conservative Party as well as same-sex marriage opponents have threatened to come after the senator, politically. Several as yet unnamed conservatives have reportedly expressed interest in running against him, and leaders of the National Organization for Marriage [NOM], a religious group that opposes same sex marriage, say the organization will spend up to $2 million to defeat the four yes-voting Republican senators."

    But some individuals and groups that promote human rights are offering to support Alesi:

    "State and local LGBT leaders say they'll back Alesi, and Angelo says Log Cabin Republicans is prepared to provide resources to Alesi and the other Republicans who voted for the bill. Empire State Pride Agenda, Human Rights Campaign, and Marriage Equality New York have made similar pledges, which they're already making good on via events and publicity. Some wealthy donors have also pledged money. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one such donor; he's also served as a benefactor of sorts for Senate Republicans." 1

    It will be interesting to see whether NOM's and the Conservative Party's fear-based campaign against equality is successful.

  • sad face happy face Forbes reports on the impact that the new marriage law will have on same-sec couples. According to the 2009 American Community Survey, there are 272,493 residents in New York City who were willing to identify themselves as homosexuals. This is the highest gay and lesbian population of any city in the U.S. The same survey reports that there are 42,600 same-sex couples. The Williams Institute/Harris Interactive Same-sex Couple Survey in 2010 reported that there are 7,200 same-sex couples in New York raising about 14,000 children. With the new law, some of them will probably marry and receive some of the same legal benefits of opposite-sex couples. They will be able to file their state tax returns jointly; lower income couples will save on taxes. Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal -- a pro marital equality advocacy group -- said: "There are hundreds of different protections and benefits under New York law. One is the right of a widowed spouse to be first in line to inherit their spouses’ assets, even if there is no will. However, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does not recognize married same-sex couples and thus denies them over 1,100 benefits, obligations and protections. 2

  • sad face happy face Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the gay pride parade in New York City on 2011-JUL-03: "I believe New York has sent a message to this Nation loud and clear: It is time for marriage equality all across this country." 2

    Allowing same-sex marriage is the third time that the definition of marriage has been fundamentally changed in the U.S. The first was after the civil war, when African Americans were allowed to marry across the country. The second was a century later in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed interracial couples to marry across the U.S. Past history with the inter-racial marriage movement would seem to indicate that a few more states in the U.S. would first have to legalize same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court might be encouraged to rule same-sex marriage legal across the country.

  • sad face John Piper, 65, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN wrote a commentary on same-sex marriage. It seems to have been triggered by the events in New York State two days earlier. He wrote that homosexuality:

    "... has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man. What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity."

    Concerning the six clobber passages in the Bible that some Christians have interpreted as condemning homosexuality, he wrote:
    "... alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24-27) stands the indictment of the celebration of it." 3
    Romans 1 condemns a group of heterosexual former Christians who went against their basic nature and engaged in same-gender sexual behavior during a religious orgy in a Pagan temple . Some Christians interpret this passage as also condemning any opposite-gender sexual behavior by lesbians or gays which would also go against their basic nature.
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  • happy faceThe Buffalo News published an editorial about SSM in New York State on 2011-JUN-28. It views SSM as a human rights issue. We pruned the essay slightly to meet "fair use" copyright rules.

    "Eventually, we get it right. That’s the history of our country. Whether it is slavery or Jim Crow or women’s suffrage or some other issue of civil rights, sooner or later, daylight dawns. So it will be, eventually, with gay marriage and when it happens, New Yorkers will be able to say that they helped lead the way. ..."

    "If it was a long time coming — and it was — it also represented a dramatic shift in thinking over a fairly short period. Same-sex marriage didn’t have to be approved this week, but sooner or later, it was bound to pass. The evolution was inevitable. ... "

    "Still, this was a day that had to come. The die was cast on the day gays first stepped out of the closet, refusing to be stigmatized any longer for their inborn humanity. Once heterosexuals were allowed — forced — to see that gays weren’t caricatures, but their relatives, neighbors and friends, the task of dehumanizing them became increasingly difficult. How long does it take before you stop granting human rights to humans?"

    "It’s a question that volleyed across the centuries in one form or another and will continue sounding for centuries to come. It is in our nature, apparently, to relegate whole categories of people to second-class status based on their race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or other characteristic— anything that makes them a ripe target for scapegoating."

    "The country was settled by Europeans seeking to escape religious persecution. They adopted racial persecution. We ended legalized slavery. We pushed for laws on civil rights. We removed the barriers to voting by women."

    "Through all of that, though, discrimination against homosexuals remained comfortably in place—so pervasive, so seemingly right, that gays had little recourse but to hide their sexuality. That began to change with the 1969 “Stonewall Riots” in New York City and accelerated with President Clinton’s attempt to end the ban on gays in the military."

    "Clinton failed, but with his effort, the genie left the bottle. Gay rights became a mainstream issue and, although, it took time for the realization to settle, there is nothing more main-stream, more human, than marriage. As increasing numbers of Americans began reaching voting age with no prejudice against gays, the end of this hurtful, unconstitutional bias was foreordained."

    "Prejudices die hard. The end of slavery did not mean the end of racial discrimination, nor did the adoption of the Civil Rights Act. It may take time for the change to make its way elsewhere in the country, but last week, New York voted to acknowledge that gays are people, too. Welcome to the 21st century." 4

  • sad face Edward Whelan, president of the conservative think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center posted a comment on the Center's website. He wrote:

    "The idea that a man could 'marry' another man (or that a woman could 'marry' another woman) could be taken seriously only in a culture that has become deeply confused about what marriage is. That confusion is largely the result of what heterosexuals have done to marriage in recent decades."

    "It will not be easy to rebuild a sound marriage culture. But the spread of same-sex marriage would make that rebuilding project impossible, as it would sever permanently the societal understanding of the inherent link between marriage and responsible procreation and child-rearing. The more confusion there is about the mission of marriage, the less well marriage will perform its critical mission. And the millions and millions of victims—children born into unstable or nonexistent families—will continue to pile up, with all the attendant disastrous consequences.

    If there is a dim silver lining, it is perhaps that New York's legislative adoption of same-sex marriage will expose the canard that homosexuals are politically powerless—one of the criteria for recognition as a 'suspect' class for purposes of heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause -- and will induce the Supreme Court to leave the definition of marriage to the democratic processes in the various states and in Congress. 5

    So far, Whelan's concerns for the future have not materialized. The state with the lowest divorce rate, Massachusetts, is also the state that has married same-sex couples the longest. Also, the two previous redefinitions of marriage -- in the 19th century when African Americans were allowed to marry, and in the 1960s when inter-racial couples were allowed to marry -- have not resulted in adverse effects on the institution of marriage.

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Some final reactions are listed in the next 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. Jeremy Moule, "POLITICS: Jim Alesi's marriage-equality vote makes him new friends," City Newspaper, 2011-JUL-06, at:
  2. Ilana Greene, "New York Gay Marriage Law Changes Couples’ Financial Lives," Forbes, 2011-JUL-01, at:
  3. Audrey Barrick, "John Piper Laments Normalization of Homosexuality as 'the New Calamity'," Christian Post, 2011-JUL-07, at:
  4. "The day that had to come: New York helps lead the way toward equality with vote on gay marriage," Buffalo News, 2011-JUN-28, at:
  5. Edward Whealan, "Can marriage be saved?," Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2011-JUL-25, at:

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-22
Latest update: 2011-AUG-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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