The New York State Legislature passed a bill permitting same-sex marriage throughout the state last Friday, instantly positioning NY as the largest in the Union to do so. After overcoming staunch opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrat Ruben Diaz, four members of the GOP joined pro-gay rights legislators on the left to formally approve the measure 33-29 and send it to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo. It was promptly signed later that evening by Cuomo, who has championed the cause ever since he ascended to the job once held by his father, Mario.
Similar bills cleared the state Assembly twice, in 2007 and 2009, but the NY Senate was the hurdle that ultimately felled both efforts. History nearly repeated itself in 2011, but legislators compromised on exemptions for religious groups. The bill’s language allowed these organizations and houses of worship to refuse to conduct services or contribute space to same-sex ceremonies.
It makes perfect sense to enable religious groups the right to abstain from involvement in the marriages of which they do not condone. Conservatives feared that anti-gay religious institutions would be compelled to take part in same-sex marriages, possibly out of fear that a warped interpretation of civil rights laws could be applied to the issue. But who would expect a rabbi to oversee a Christian wedding or Hindus to accommodate a Muslim funeral in their temple? The same principle applies here; the legislature was smart to assuage conservative concerns as well as reinforce America’s sacred separation of church and state. Besides, it is hard to imagine people lining up to a religious institution that does not recognize or accept them. It is not a situation analogous to African Americans denied service at diners, mortgage applications or jobs during Jim Crow.
As the third most populated state in the country, New York’s new policy may very well revolutionize marriage laws around the nation. Although some states are going the opposite direction (such as Minnesota, which will see a constitutional amendment banning same-sex matrimony on the 2012 ballot even though it already has a statute on the books prohibiting it), many activists see the unstoppable wave of equality and rationality finally engulfing the United States. Unfortunately, there are some who not only disagree with gay marriage, they view it as an affront to their god.
Pastor Art Kohl of Faith Bible Baptist Church in Eden, N.Y proclaimed that passage of the bill “was a cold, hard slap [in] God’s face by the assembly men and women in Albany who voted for it and the senators… they spit in the very face of a holy God who alone can define what marriage is” (I cannot help but wonder if the pastor of Sodom, NY is more in favor of the legislation). Former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree is certain that Yahweh allowed him to make his famous game-winning catch in the 2007 Super Bowl so that he could promulgate the evils of same-sex marriage on a national stage. What an idiot; everybody knows that all sports contests are predicated upon which team prays hardest in the pre-game huddle, not who slags gays most. So why is he pissed about same-sex marriage? Straight jocks and gays have much in common. For instance, both often shower with other men; the latter just admit to liking it.
The most overwrought and slightly ill-conceived assessment came from the mouth of Brooklyn Rabbi Yoel Loeb. “It’s against God, it’s against the Holy Torah” he intoned. “It will have a terrible influence on children and it will destroy all humanity.” I was not aware that the New York state legislature in Albany had the power to destroy the entirety of humankind. Talk about your Big Government. I must implore all New York State voters to cast their ballots wisely from here out; I cannot imagine the fate of the world resting on the shoulders of dipshits like Carl Paladino, David Paterson, Ruben Diaz or Peter King.
As a native New Yorker (upstate… shut up) who fled the state like any other sane individual, I still harbor much love for my home state, warts and all. I’m immensely proud that it took a stand for civil rights, civil liberties and civil humanity. California missed its opportunity, while famed same-sex marriage legalization victories in Massachusetts and Iowa materialized via court order. New York joined Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in broadening marriage rights through good, old-fashioned republican democracy. New York is now poised to reap millions in tourism revenue and become a premier destination for gay and lesbian honeymooners. Besides the legal acknowledgement of their relationships and families, how they could resist a post-nuptial rendezvous in a city with a borough named Queens.