The state Senate may vote Nov. 10 on a proposed bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages. The New York State Catholic Conference is urging Catholics to contact their legislators immediately to express opposition to this measure.
Gov. David Paterson on Oct. 25 called the state Legislature, which currently is not in session, to attend an extraordinary session on Nov. 10. According to a press release from his office, Paterson wants the legislators to address the state’s current-year financial deficit as well as additional legislation that remained unfinished when the legislative session ended last June.
Paterson has asked the Senate to take up the same-sex marriage bill, S4401/A7732, during this extraordinary session, according to the Catholic conference, which is the public-policy arm of the state’s bishops. The proposed bill would amend the state’s Domestic Relations Law to allow same-sex couples to marry, and would make all provisions of state law applicable to such marriages.
Last May the Assembly voted to pass the bill, but the Senate was unable to vote on it before the end of the regular legislative session due a leadership battle that erupted June 8, leading to weeks of gridlock and confusion. Catholic conference director Richard Barnes and the state’s bishops have spoken out against the legislation several times since Paterson proposed it April 16.
Barnes has stated that marriage is a fundamental building block of society, and that the only reason for the state’s involvement in marriage and its legal recognition of two individuals in a sexual relationship is to encourage the stable rearing of children. Passage of the proposed bill would change the institution of marriage, which fosters stable families that provide for children’s safety, health and well-being, the state’s bishops maintained in a June 1 statement of opposition to the bill.
The Catholic Church, including New York’s bishops, does not condone condemnation of homosexuals or attacks on their human dignity. Nonetheless, the bishops reiterated the church’s “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.”
Noting that this definition has been a constant among cultures throughout history, the bishops charged in June that, by its vote to pass this legislation, the Assembly has “voted to redefine what nature and our common heritage long ago defined for us.”
More recently, the Catholic conference’s Catholic Advocacy Network issued an advocacy alert Oct. 29 asking Catholics to take immediate action against the bill.
“This action has already passed in the Assembly, so it only needs Senate approval to become law. Action is needed now to protect marriage as we’ve always known it — the union of a husband and a wife,” the conference stated in the alert.
Visitors to the conference’s Web site can click on the “Take Action Now” button to access a draft message of opposition to the proposed bill. This message may be customized and sent to members of the Senate directly from the Web site.