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No easy peace on gay marriage or the Middle East09.23.11

Catching up with a few things after — during — a very busy week. (I’ve been reviewing hundreds of state education reports. You don’t want to know.)

1. So Archbishop Dolan is fighting mad at the Obama administration over gay marriage. It’s not just that the administration will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, but how the administration is characterizing those who oppose gay marriage.

He wrote to Obama: “The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic Bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society.  That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias.  It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.”

A staff analysis from the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference (of which Dolan is president) notes that the Justice Department is comparing the Defense of Marriage Act to racial discrimination laws.

The analysis states bluntly: “According to the government?s view, support for a definition of marriage that recognizes that sexual difference is a defining and valuable feature of marriage now constitutes a forbidden intent to harm a vulnerable class of people.  The false claim that animus is at work ignores the
intrinsic goods of complementarity and fruitfulness found only in the union of man and woman as husband and wife.  DoJ?s contention thus transforms a moral disagreement into a constitutional violation, with grave practical consequences.”

2. On the same subject at the state level, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked a state court on Friday to toss a lawsuit filed by an evangelical lobbying group that challenges the state’s gay marriage law.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms filed the suit in July, contending that the state Senate broke its own procedural rules before its closely watched vote approving same-sex marriage.

According to the AP: “In his motion to dismiss, Schneiderman relies heavily on the separation of powers to argue the court shouldn’t get involved in matters “wholly internal” to the legislature. He also contends the various meetings between executive and legislative branch members, lobbyists and other interested parties were proper under the open meetings law.”

Also, a short article on the NYCF website makes the case that town clerks who have religious objections to same-sex marriage should not have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. They are standing behind Rose Marie Belforti, Ledyard town clerk in Cayuga County, who apparently wouldn’t issue a license to a lesbian couple.

NYCF states: “They’re putting legal pressure on Mrs. Belforti to sign same-sex “marriage” licenses, but Rose Belforti is standing tall. We know that the fragrance of Rose’s act of obedience is a sweet smell to her Savior.”

3. As the U.N. wrestles today with whether to create a Palestinian state — and all that would mean — the Jewish Week writes about a recent meeting of local Israelis and Palestinians right here in Yonkers.

The meeting was apparently called by the Dialogue Project, “a 10-year-old venture to build relationships between different ethnic and religious groups.”

Dergham Alkhatib, 43, who spent much of his childhood in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, told the Jewish Week that he was “conditioned to hate Jews.” Now he says: ““We have to overcome this miserable history, instead of looking at all Palestinians as terrorists and all Zionists as people who want to steal Palestinian homes.”

After Alkhatib talked about his concern that Palestinian refugees will be taken care of, the JW described what happened:

*****

But Alkhatib’s comment drew an emotional response from Cari Gardner, 66, who said any reference to refugees or a Palestinian “right of return” is something that “triggers” her. She has no idea what “right of return” means, she told Alkhatib, known to friends as Leo. Does it mean that all Palestinian refugees should return, she asked, and, if so, to where — to the West Bank or to within Israel’s pre-1967 borders? Finally, she asked, can’t the refugees simply go on with their lives?

That, in turn, drew an emotional response from Lori, an American convert to Islam whose late husband was Palestinian. Turning to Gardner, Lori said that, while she understands her concern, she likens the feelings of Israelis who fear a massive influx of Palestinian refugees to the feelings of Palestinians in 1948 who witnessed a massive influx of Jews. “How did they feel seeing all these people coming in?” she asked.

Some might see such exchanges, especially between people who know and like each other, as a dismal sign. And many Jews and Muslims believe that such dialogues achieve little, if anything, and serve only to legitimize abhorrent points of view.

Nevertheless, members of the Yonkers group said participating in the dialogue over the years has changed their perception of the other group.

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in gay marriage, Gay marriage in New York, Middle East, Middle East peace, Uncategorizedwith 134 Comments →

Episcopal Diocese of NY nominates five for bishop, including married lesbian priest08.29.11

Here’s hoping you haven’t had too much damage from Irene.

Like every reporter, I’ve been driving around the past few days checking out the floods and downed trees and talking to exasperated people who don’t know when they’ll get power back.

But it appears that things could have been worse.

Otherwise…an interesting development from the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

You may know that Bishop Mark Sisk will retire over the next few years. The diocese has started a process to choose his successor. This morning, a committee announced the names of five nominees, one of which will be chosen by delegates to a diocesan convention on Oct. 29.

One of the nominees is the Rev. Tracey Lind of Cleveland, who is dean of Trinity Cathedral there. She is also a lesbian who got married in New Hampshire last year.

For obvious reasons, Lind’s election would be big news.

Although the Episcopal Church is very gay-friendly — and this is especially true of the Diocese of NY — many are still uncomfortable with gay marriage. In fact, Bishop Sisk supported the passage of civil gay marriage and has been an outspoken advocate for gays in the church, but does not believe that his priests should perform marriages for gay couples. Instead, he supports “clergy who wish to bless a couple who are members of the Church and who have entered into a same-sex civil marriage.”

If Lind was chosen bishop, would the Catholic Church send anyone to her installation?

Maybe we’ll find out. Maybe we won’t. Lind was also a candidate to become bishop of Chicago in 2007, but was not chosen.

You can read about the other nominees here.

Back to storm coverage…

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Episcopal Diocese of New York, gay marriage, Gay marriage in New Yorkwith 169 Comments →

How will Bruno’s retirement affect gay-marriage debate?06.24.08

I had an article in Sunday’s Journal News/LoHud about religious lobbyists taking a keen interest in Gov. Paterson’s call for state agencies to recognize gay marriages from other states.

I wrote that the New York State Catholic Conference and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical group, are each aiming to make voters aware of how candidates for Senate feel about same-sex marriage. The Republican-controlled Senate has not passed a gay marriage bill — as the Democrat-led Assembly has.

It’s helped the cause that Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno had pledged not to allow a vote on gay-marriage to come to his floor.

amd_bruno.jpgBut now Bruno is hanging it up. And everything changes. This fall’s Senate elections will be even more closely watched.

You have to figure that Sen. Dean Skelos, who is expected to take over as Senate majority leader, possibly today, will seek to calm the nerves of those who don’t want to see the definition of marriage in New York changed in any way.

But he’s not Joe Bruno, who had rock-solid control over a big hunk of New York state government.

How long before Skelos says something about Paterson’s directive on recognizing same-sex marriages from elsewhere?

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Gay marriage in New York, Sen. Dean Skelos, Sen. Joseph Brunowith Comments Off on How will Bruno’s retirement affect gay-marriage debate?

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