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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York

2009-JUN: Catholic bishops oppose bill.
Senate considers bill. No action taken

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2009-JUN-05: Letter from Catholic bishops condemning SSM:, a Roman Catholic news source, reported:

"The Catholic Bishops of New York have issued a letter urging the state senate to reject a bill, already passed by the New York State Assembly, that will legalize same-sex marriage. The measure is 'ill-advised' and 'would radically change the timeless institution of marriage,' the bishops' letter said."

"The letter, signed by every member of the New York bishop's conference, comes after the claim by New York governor David Paterson that same-sex marriage is a civil right and the 'right way' to go from a spiritual standpoint. Paterson put forward the measure on April 16 which was later passed in the Assembly by an 89-52 vote."

"The New York Senate had until June 22 to approve the bill. Its sponsor, state Sen. Thomas Duane, told the New York Daily News that he has the votes needed to approve the bill. However, his claim is disputed by the Senate's foremost opponent of same-sex 'marriage,' Ruben Diaz Sr., and a recent NY1 poll of senators."

"The NY1 poll tallies only twenty committed 'yes' votes -- all Democrats, and only two of them upstate representatives. On the other hand, 22 Republicans and 6 Democrats have stated they will vote 'no'."

" 'Throughout history,' the bishops' letter said, 'different cultures have had different customs regarding marriage. But the one constant has been the conviction that marriage is the union of a man and a woman in an enduring bond, ordered for the procreation and stable rearing of children,' they said."

" 'Nature and our common heritage,' and not simply Catholic teaching, defines the meaning of marriage, they said."

" 'The state has a compelling legal interest in promoting marriage between men and women in order to create stable families and provide for the safety, health and well-being of children."

" 'The state has no such compelling legal interest in recognizing a relationship between two people of the same sex,' the bishops said."

"Governor Paterson was criticized by Sen. Ruben Diaz for having put his measure forward a day before the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the See of New York City."

"Diaz told Catholic News Agency at the time, 'If I were Governor Paterson, I would abstain from going to St. Patrick's Cathedral for the welcoming ceremony and to celebrate Mass'." 1,2

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Comments on the LifeSiteNews article:

bullet 32 votes in support of the bill would be required for passage through the Senate.
bullet used the phrase same-sex "marriage" to refer to SSM -- apparently to denigrate or ridicule marriages by same-sex couples. We removed the apostrophes.
bullet They state that "the one constant" among the world's cultures is "that  marriage is the union of a man and a woman." They appear to have overlooked polygynous marriages that are mentioned throughout the Bible and were once promoted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the main Mormon church. Such marriages remain common among fundamentalist  Mormon denominations in both the U.S. and Canada. LifeSiteNews seem to have ignored Islamic law which allows a man to have up to four wives. This type of comment is now very commonly seen among conservative religious news and information sources, yet is clearly wrong.

bullet They write that "The state has a compelling legal interest in promoting marriage between men and women in order to create stable families and provide for the safety, health and well-being of children." But they recognize no state interest to promote "stable families and provide for the safety, health and well-being of children" in families formed by same-sex parents. They give no reason for treating these two types of families differently. They may be implying that same-sex couples cannot have and raise children -- a false belief considering the current lesbian baby boom. Or they may be implying that gays, lesbians and bisexuals and their children are sub-human and thus do not deserve equal rights.
bullet The title of the article is: "Same-Sex Marriage Bill Will Radically Change Nature of Marriage: Bishops to New York State Senate." (Emphasis added by us). This would only come true if the bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the Governor. Otherwise the bill is just worth the paper it is printed on.

When the article was published, the bill had only been passed by the House. Author Hillary White had misquoted the bishops, who had said that the bill "... would radically change the timeless institution of marriage." Perhaps she recognizes that the bill will eventually pass -- during this term of the Legislature or some future term.

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2009-JUN-24: State Senate considers same-sex marriage bill:

Governor David Patterson has called an extraordinary session of the NY state senate at 3 PM on 2009-JUN-24. He placed the same-sex marriage bill as the first item of ten items on the agenda.

Citizen Link, a fundamentalist Christian news source, has stated:

"According to Jenny Tyree, marriage analyst at Focus on the Family Action, the redefinition of marriage represents a danger to all of New York. 'Marriage and family are the institutions on which the whole of society rests. This legislation threatens those institutions and also harms the best interest of children, who need the stability and security of married, mother-father homes'." 3

Supporters of marriage equality regularly point out that SSM does not affect existing or future marriages by opposite-sex couples. Massachusetts, the state that has had SSM in place for the longest interval, also has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. Further, by giving same-sex couples access to marriage and to the rights and protections that marriage provides, same-sex relationships will be strengthened and made more stable and secure. Also, their children would benefit from having a legitimate status.

A total of ten bills will be considered; other important bills include state spending caps and a farm workers' bill of rights. Agreement on any bill will be difficult, because the Senate is in a state of high chaos at this time with much political maneuvering going on.

No action was taken on JUN-24, as chaos continued in the Senate.

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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. Hilary White: "Same-Sex Marriage Bill Will Radically Change Nature of Marriage: Bishops to New York State Senate," LifeSiteNews, 2009-JUN-05, at:
  2. "Catholic bishops of New York : 'Help protect marriage'," Diocese of Buffalo, at: This is a temporary link.
  3. "New York Alert: Help protect marriage in the Empire State!," Citizen Link mailing, 2009-JUN-24

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Site navigation:

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

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Second segment copyright © 2009 & 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-JUN-14
Latest update: 2011-AUG-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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