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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

Activities during 2011-JUNE-01 to 14

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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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2011-JUN-01: Labor unions support the "Marriage Equality Act:"

Representatives from Capital District Area Labor Federation, CSEA, Public Employees Federation, New York State United Teachers, SEIU, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local #2, and Capital District Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement joined Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross D. Levi to indicate their desire that the Legislature pass a same-sex marriage bill during the 2011 (current) session. Some of their leaders' statements were:

Mary Sullivan, President, of the Capital District Area Labor Federation, said:

"The organized labor movement in this state and a majority of New Yorkers believe the denial of marriage equality hurts not just individuals, but also family members, neighbors and co-workers who care about the well-being of same-sex couples and the children they care for. While some measures have been taken to bring recognition to these families, there is no substitute for marriage. No legal mechanism for protecting families is as widely accepted or has as clear legal precedent and meaning as marriage. Continuing to deny access to marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples discriminates against them and relegates them to second-class citizenship. The time for action, and passage, of marriage equality legislation is now."

CSEA President Danny Donohue said:

"This is a defining civil rights issue of our time. We are announcing our support of the Marriage Equality Act in the hope that it will encourage state lawmakers to search their consciences and do what is right to approve this legislation."

Public Employees Federation Vice-President Thomas Comanzo. said"

"The Public Employees Federation strongly supports the passage of the marriage bill. The time is now for the New York State Legislature to pass this law and eliminate the second-class-citizen status forced upon tens of thousands of people who are law-abiding, tax-paying voters who support the localities, counties and cities where they live in our fair state."

Lee Cutler, Secretary Treasurer of New York State United Teachers said:

"Being able to marry the person whom you choose is a basic human right. NYSUT supports human rights in all areas and has been an outspoken leader on LGBT issues. I confirm here today that it is this union’s position to support full marriage equality for all."

Mike Lonigro, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU said:

"On behalf of the over 12,000 families represented by SEIU Local 200 United, my fellow officers and I fully support the issue of marriage equality. We will not accept anything less than total equality. As we speak, we are in contract negotiations where we are demanding, among other things, the right for employees to make their same-sex partners in life eligible pension beneficiaries. Marriage equality in New York State would make this a non issue and would free us up to negotiate for other important matters. I urge the New York State Legislature to pass this legislation before the end of session."

Ross D. Levi, the executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda -- a LGBT positive group, said:

"We are honored and proud to have our sisters and brothers from organized labor as partners in our fight to allow all loving, committed couples to marry in New York State. Unions have long stood for fairness for all, and for ensuring that our society treats everyone with dignity and respect. That is why it is fitting that unions -- along with most New Yorkers from across the state and from many different backgrounds –- support marriage equality." 1

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2011-JUN-13: ReligionDispatches.org discussed groups opposing marriage equality:

  • New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) is a conservative Christian group that opposes abortion access, access to gambling, and same-sex marriage. Their web site states:

    "Many forces are attacking marriage in New York State.  These forces are promoting marriage for same-sex couples (or the counterfeit equivalent under pseudonyms such as civil unions or domestic partnerships) as an extension of tolerance, equality and civil rights." 

    "All of these devices are really wedges designed to overturn traditional sexual morality and to win official affirmation, celebration, subsidization and solemnization of behavior that is harmful to the people who engage in same-sex relationships and to society as a whole.

    "NYCF urges the members of the New York State Legislature to reaffirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman, by rejecting ... any ... bill that attempts to create state-approved counterfeit marriages by any name, whether it be marriage, civil union, domestic partnerships or any other." 2

    Some of the NYCF's concerns include their feeling that the widening of marriage to include same-sex couples would make the term "marriage" meaningless; it would enganger the nation's future. They view the purpose of marriage is "natural reproduction of the human race." (In comparison, lesbian couples are like infertile opposite couples: they need assistance to conceive. Gay couples are like opposite-sex couples who cannot conceive: their only route is to adopt.) They believe that marriage laws are not discriminatory because lesbians and gays are as free to marry as are heterosexuals; they can marry anyone that they wish as long as they are of the opposite gender to whom they are not sexually attracted. They are concerned that businesses that wish to continue to discriminate against LGBT persons will "... increasingly be punished through loss of contracts and legal action." 2

  • ReligionDispatches.org reports that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) -- the main national organization dedicated to denying LGBT persons the right to marry -- has invested at least a half-million dollars in anti-SSM television ads. They pledge to spend $1.5 million dollars to help defeat any legislators who votes in favor of the bill. 3

  • Six Orthodox Jewish organizations in the state have issued a joint statement asking lawmakers to uphold what they refer to as "traditional marriage." This is a common expression for opposing marriage equality by making same-sex marriages unavailable. The statement reads in part:
    "... the Orthodox Jewish world speaks with one voice, loud and clear: We oppose the redefinition of the bedrock relationship of the human family. The Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony." 3

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2011-JUN-14: Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, issued statement "The true meaning of marriage:"

Referring to SSM, he expressed concern:

"... about this perilous presumption of the state to re-invent the very definition of an undeniable truth – one man, one woman, united in lifelong love and fidelity, hoping for children – that has served as the very cornerstone of civilization and culture from the start?" 4

He compared the possible passage of a bill to legalize SSM to the actions of a totalitarian regime like China or North Korea:

"In those countries, government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values, and natural law.  There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of 'family' and 'marriage' means.

But, please, not here!  Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.

Please, not here!  We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a 'right.'  And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?

Our beliefs should not be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people.  The Church affirms the basic human rights of gay men and women, and the state has rightly changed many laws to offer these men and women hospital visitation rights, bereavement leave, death benefits, insurance benefits, and the like.  This is not about denying rights. It is about upholding a truth about the human condition.  Marriage is not simply a mechanism for delivering benefits:  It is the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children.  Please don’t vote to change that.  If you do, you are claiming the power to change what is not into what is, simply because you say so.  This is false, it is wrong, and it defies logic and common sense." 4

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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. "Organized Labor Calls for NY Legislature to Allow Gay and Lesbian Couples to Marry," Empire State Pride Agenda, 2011-JUN-01, at: http://www.prideagenda.org/
  2. O'Donnell, "NYCF opposes redefining marriage," New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, undated, at: http://www.nycf.info/
  3. Michael Tracey, "Opponents of marriage equality confident of defeating last-minute push," Religion Dispatches, 2011-JUN-13, at: http://www.religiondispatches.org/
  4. Timothy Dolan, "The true meaning of marriage," Archdiocese of New York, 2011-JUN-14, at: http://blog.archny.org/

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-17
Latest update: 2011-JUN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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