Gov. Paterson introduces same-sex marriage bill - Catholic Courier

Gov. Paterson introduces same-sex marriage bill

The New York State Catholic Conference recently joined with several other organizations in criticizing the bill Gov. David Paterson introduced April 16 to make same-sex civil marriages legal in New York.

Paterson’s proposed legislation would amend the state’s Domestic Relations Law to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages. It also would give homosexual spouses the same legal status and protections already granted to heterosexual spouses on such matters as property ownership, inheritance, health care and insurance coverage.

Although the legislation stipulates that no clergyman or minister could be required to perform same-sex marriages, it also would mandate that gender-specific language in state law should be interpreted in a gender-neutral manner.

Paterson said his proposed legislation will correct injustice and discrimination faced by same-sex couples.

“Too many individuals face legal discrimination every single day,” he said in an April 16 statement. “Anyone who has ever faced intolerance of any kind knows the solemn importance of protecting the rights of all people.”

Yet according to the New York State Catholic Conference, Paterson’s legislation would weaken the institution of marriage and thus destabilize society.

This is not the first time Paterson has pushed for same-sex unions, nor is it the first time that the Catholic conference and the state’s bishops have spoken out against them. In May 2008 Paterson sent a memo to state agencies directing them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and nations. In response to Paterson’s actions, the bishops released a statement in June 2008 explaining the theological and practical reasons for their opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Marriage always has been, is now and always will be a union of one man and one woman in an enduring bond. This is consistent with natural law, and should be obvious to all, no matter what their religion, or even if they have no religion at all,” said the bishops’ statement, which was rereleased April 16 by the Catholic conference, the public-policy arm of the state’s bishops.

The state’s historic recognition of marriage is based on the biological fact that the physical union of a man and a woman often produces children, the bishops wrote, and empirical evidence has shown that it is better for children to be raised in stable homes with both mothers and fathers.

“Encouraging marriage between a man and a woman, therefore, serves the state’s interests, as well-reared children who live with their mother and father are much more likely to grow to be good citizens, thereby, creating wealth, stability and security for the members of the society,” the bishops said.

But, the bishops added, there is no compelling state interest in granting legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

“‘Same-sex marriage’ furthers a societal disconnect between procreation and marriage while promoting the notion that a nontraditional family structure serves a child as well as a traditional one. We are confident history will judge this notion harshly,” the bishops said.

Nevertheless, the bishops affirmed the call to treat homosexuals with dignity and love.

“Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church warns that any form of prejudice and hatred — ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ — against homosexual people should be avoided,” the bishops stated.

The Coalition to Save Marriage in New York and the National Organization for Marriage also released statements of opposition to Paterson’s proposed legislation.

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