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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

Attempts to eliminate SSM via financial attacks on
senators & threats against judges. Poll results.

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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 which discusses news
on the first anniversary of the passage of the equal marriage law
in New York State

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In the conflict over marriage equality, a major event occurred on 2011-JUL-24. The new law to permit SSM in New York State became effective. Hundreds of same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses; some were actually married. Overnight, the number of loving, committed same-sex couples in America who had access to marriage more than doubled. Religious conservatives, and their organizations, who form the vast majority of those opposed to SSM, became heavily motivated to roll back marriage equality and limit SSM once more as a special privilege restricted only to opposite-sex couples.

They have mounted four programs to achieve this: financial attacks, threats, request for a plebiscite and a lawsuit.

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2011-JUL-28: Financial attacks on state senators:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) -- the most active national group attempting to prohibit marriage for same-sex couples. They published a press release threatening to punish the Republican party in New York State. It quoted their president Brian Brown as saying:

"The Republican party has torn up its contract with the voters who trusted them in order to facilitate Andrew Cuomo’s bid to be president of the U.S. Selling out your principles to get elected is wrong. Selling out your principles to get the other guy elected is just plain dumb.

Gay marriage has consequences for the next generation, for parents, and for religious people, institutions and small business owners. Politicians who campaign one way on marriage, and then vote the other, need to understand: betraying and misleading voters has consequences, too. We are not giving up, we will continue to fight to protect marriage in New York, as we are actively doing in New Hampshire and Iowa." 1

Later, they widened the attack beyond just the state Republican party. Their new goal is to attempt to destroy the political future of seven New York State lawmakers: four Republicans and three Democrats. The lawmakers had been initially undecided about same-sex marriage, but eventually were convinced on human rights grounds to vote in favor of the law to make SSM available to loving, committed couples of all gender combinations. Their news release stated:

"The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today began making good on its pledge to spend at least $2 million leading to the defeat of the seven state Senators who were responsible for the imposition of same-sex marriage in New York. NOM announced today it was spending $150,000 on issue mailings into the districts of Republican Senators Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald, James Alesi and Stephen Saland, and Democratic Senators Shirley Huntley, Joseph Addabbo and Carl Kruger.

"This is the first step in what will be a sustained, determined effort to make sure the constituents of these cowardly Senators know what they have done," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "They decided to ignore principle and their constituents in a calculated political flip-flop only after Governor Cuomo raised $1 million from Wall Street billionaires and hedge fund managers to support the legislation. Now, some of these same Senators are raising tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from gay marriage activists all around the country. It's despicable." 2

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2011-JUL-23: Threats made against judges in New York State:

Some loving, committed same-sex couples in New York State have wanted to get married for decades. Many hundreds jumped at the chance on 2011-JUL-24 when marriage licenses first became available in the state. Many applied for judicial exemption from the normal 24-hour waiting period so that they could become married on the historic day that the new marriage law went into effect. A secondary benefit of an exemption was that many of their friends with Monday to Friday jobs could attend their wedding on that Sunday. To bypass the 24 hour waiting period, they had to obtain a waiver from a judge.

NY State Senator, Reverend Ruben Diaz, expressed concern about the process. In a press release, he called for an investigation of the judicial waivers with the intent of prosecuting judges who handed out waivers too freely. He wrote:

"... let’s be sure that no crimes will be committed in regard to the 24-hour waiting period that is required before a marriages can be performed in New York."

New York State Domestic Relations Law 13-b notes that state marriage licenses contain a statement about this mandatory waiting period and outlines three criteria for waiving it. The law states:

  1. The order must be issued by a judge or justice of the supreme court of this state or the county judge of the county in which either party to be married resides, and

  2. It shall appear from an examination of the license and any other proofs submitted by the parties that one of the parties is (a) in danger of imminent death, or (b) by reason of other emergency public interest will be promoted thereby, or (c) that such delay will work irreparable injury or great hardship upon the contracting parties, or one of them.

NY State Senator, Reverend Ruben Diaz, a Pentecostal pastor, wrote in a press release:

"... we really have to wonder about the lawless cynicism of any judge who signs an order finding any of the three elements in the second criteria.  Obviously death is not an issue.  'Emergency public interest'?  What might that be?  'Irreparable injury or great hardship'?  Does that mean having to wait until Monday?

Plus, a waiver is not automatic -- you have to prove you are entitled to it.  What proofs will be submitted?  What will be on the marriage license to justify a waiver?  Will written petitions be filed?  Will written orders be issued?

And, this order permitting a waiver would have to be filed with the Clerk's office -- it will be a public record, and any false statement in that record will be a criminal offense.  Domestic Relations Law 13-b actually says that it's a crime to solemnize a marriage in violation of that section.

It will be interesting to see how can each couple could anticipate an actual emergency to necessitate getting this done on Sunday. ...

We all know that by some quirk of the law, the New York City Clerk works for the City Council, and thus for the Speaker.  Let’s see if any of them care about the law or if they’ll ignore this law and fail to state the minimum waiting period on the licenses so they can make the evening news on Sunday night." 3

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2011-AUG-10: NY1/Marist Poll sheds light on support for marriage equality and for state senators who supported it:

Pollsters at Marist College interviewed 660 New York State adults between 2011-JUL-28 and 31. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points for general questions and ±4.5 percentage points on responses from registered voters. Some of the results were:

  • 77% do not anticipate attending a same-sex marriage during the next year
  • 70% would attend on if invited.
  • 55% support SSM; 36% oppose it; 9% did not answer or had no opinion. This agrees closely with various national polls taken during 2011.
  • Support for SSM among among various subgroups:
    • 59% of those earning over 50,000 a year.
    • 62% of college graduates.
    • 62% of those under 45 years-of-age.
    • 70% of those who answered the survey via cell phones.
    • 61% who used land lines.

On the subject of the public voting for senators:

  • 44% are more likely to vote for a state senator who voted to pass the Marriage Equality Act; 30% are less likely.
  • Among Democrats: 55% more likely, 21% less likely.
  • Among Republicans: 24% more likely, 43% less likely.
  • Among Independents: 45% more likely, 35% less likely

Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff said: "It doesn't look at this point that it's going to be a major liability for individual senators."

NY1 reports that:

"Pollsters say anecdotally that support of same sex marriage continues to grow though among all groups." 4

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Attempt to punish and reward Republican senators who voted for SSM:

"NOM," the National Organization for Marriage is the main national group opposing marriage for same-sex couples. Their worst-case scenario materialized on 2011-JUN-24 when four Republican state senators broke ranks with their party. The four -- Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo, James S. Alesi of Rochester, Stephen M. Saland of Poughkeepsie, and Roy J. McDonald of Saratoga County -- joined all but one Democratic senator, and voted along with the majority opinion of the New York public in favor of SSM. NOM has since paid for billboards in each of the four districts to in an attempt to unseat the senators at the next election.

To counteract NOM's efforts, a group of conservative financiers is raising money in a Manhattan fundraiser to help the re-election bids of the four senators. They expect to raise $1.25 million. 5

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This topic continues with a proposed referendum and lawsuit against the SSM law

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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. "NOM to GOP senators: We pledge $2 million to reverse same-sex marriage in New York." National Organization for Marriage, 2011-JUN-24, at:
  2. "The National Organization for Marriage Launches Mailers Into The Districts of Seven GOP and Democratic Senators Who Betrayed Voters on Marriage," National Organization for Marriage, 2011-JUL-26.
  3. Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz, "Where's the Emergency?," 2011-JUL-23, at:
  4. Michael Herzenberg, "NY1 Exclusive: Majority in poll back Marriage Equality, senators who support it," NY1, 2011-AUG-10, at:
  5. "New York Gay Marriage: GOP Senators Who Supported Bill Rewarded With Big Donations," Huffington Post, 2011-OCT-13, at:

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 Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > NY > here

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-26
Latest update: 2011-OCT-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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