Same-sex marriage goes down to legislative wire in New York

NEW YORK Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:50pm EDT

Men dressed in tuxedo jackets to emulate grooms at a wedding wave flags touting their 30 years in a relationship together as a form of support for gay marriage, in the annual Gay Pride Parade in New York June 28, 2009. REUTERS/Jacob Silberberg

Men dressed in tuxedo jackets to emulate grooms at a wedding wave flags touting their 30 years in a relationship together as a form of support for gay marriage, in the annual Gay Pride Parade in New York June 28, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jacob Silberberg

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Supporters and opponents of gay marriage made 11th-hour appeals on Sunday as state lawmakers weighed a vote on making New York the sixth state -- and the most populous -- to legalize same-sex marriage.

The measure that would make gay marriage legal, introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat and strong advocate, is currently one vote shy of passage in the state Senate.

The state Assembly approved the bill by a wide margin last week, and Monday is the last day of the legislative session before summer recess.

New York's Archbishop, Timothy Dolan, reiterated his and the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage on Sunday, vowing to oppose "any radical bill to redefine the very essence of marriage."

"One has to wonder why the proponents of this radical redefinition, who claim overwhelming popular support, would not consider" a referendum "on such a drastic departure from traditional values?" he wrote on his blog.

Recent polls show statewide support for gay marriage.

Dolan wrote that the "government presumes to redefine" such sacred words as father, mother, husband and wife "at the peril of the common good."

In Albany, Senate Majority Leader Republican Dean Skelos has said the bill as written has prompted concerns over its religious clauses and exemptions.

The bill does not compel any member of the clergy to conduct same-sex marriages, but some Republican lawmakers are concerned the legal protection is not strong enough.

Skelos said Cuomo has indicated he was open to including more specific exemptions for religious groups.

The governor has lobbied for passage and said he remains cautiously optimistic the bill will come to a vote and pass.

Meanwhile gay marriage advocates, including Latinos United for Marriage Equality, rallied on Sunday.

"Our demand today is simple and reasonable: bring Marriage Equality to a vote on Monday," said Jake Goodman of the group Queer Rising, in a statement.

The group held a "Last Day of Marriage Inequality" rally in Manhattan's Union Square, where supporters carried signs that read "'I do'" support marriage equality" and "Be a leader: introduce the bill."

New Yorkers United for Marriage also held rallies around the state.

The stakes are especially high because New York would become the most populous U.S. state to allow gay marriage approved by lawmakers, spelling a huge gay rights victory.

The state-by-state battle over gay marriage has become a contentious U.S. social issue ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont -- and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, while four states have civil unions. Gay marriage is specifically banned in 39 states.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (10)
ChicagoJim wrote:
This is a comment I posted to blog of the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. After 24+ hours it is still “awaiting moderation”. After 31 years, I am still “awaiting moderation” of the Roman Catholic Church.

Jim Hall says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
June 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm
This is but one of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to which I give the credit for turning my faith in the Church, God, and Christianity to a reliance on reason and the beauty of the science of the multiverse. I am gay and the teachings of this church cause me to be afraid every day of my life. This archbishop is obviously a glutton, which is a human condition acquired by CHOICE. I was born gay, a human condition not acquired by CHOICE. Trust me here, I wouldn’t have CHOSEN to be ostracized by the esteemed personages of the Roman Catholic Church. The reason that I converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1980 was that I met a Roman Catholic Priest in Back Street, a gay discotheque in Atlanta, Georgia. I became interested as a result of having a SEXUAL relationship with him for 1.5 years. I was accepted to matriculate at St. Meinrad Seminary to study to become a priest. I was withing one month of doing so when, and if there is a God, I was called to drop this pursuit. I am grateful that I did, since gay people were soon to become the scapegoats, e.g., Christ, for the child molestations perpetuated by the members of the priesthood. That is probably why I define myself as an agnostic, not an atheist. That and the fact that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of a negative. But, I digress, I hope that if there is an authority to which we answer for our missing the mark, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York will be held accountable for the things that have come from his mouth. As Christ said, “It is not the things that come into a man, but those that come out of him, etc., etc.” I do hope that the right of a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman (which is not a “gay right” but a human right of a person of one sex to choose to love another person of the same sex) will be a national right some day. If the Roman Catholic Church chooses not to recognize these marriages, then so be it. Amen. The global aspect of this issue involves the government’s denial of advantages, which acquire to opposite sex couples, to same sex couples. The Roman Catholic Church needs to stay out of the government of the United States of America. This is not 16th century Italy, with a Borgia Pope waging war upon Earth and Heaven!

Jun 19, 2011 7:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mattInSydney wrote:
How can it be suggested that a nation should vote on whether to continue with laws that discriminate? Morals are an attitude of a certain era, and they need to change where one group is left-out or made to feel less than equal.

Jun 19, 2011 7:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Clearly, the problem is with the term “marriage” itself, which has both religious and legal meanings. People arguing against gay marriage have footholds in the traditional, church based definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However being married does give spouses certain federal and state level legal rights, one of the most popular being the right to see each other in hospitals. I don’t see any reason for opposing granting the same state and federal level rights in a heterosexual marriage to a gay civil union. Again, however, a “civil union” suggests a level of inequality between gay and straight couples. Discrimination would be very simple, and many people would not necessarily feel equal (separate but equal anyone?).

The question here is what the government can do to please both sides. The problem is that granting “full equality” to gay couples would have the unintended effect of redefining a social, religious term, which many believe the government should not have the power to do. I know some other people that just aren’t comfortable with it.

Jun 19, 2011 7:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus