Same-sex marriage vote…today?

Gov. Paterson has called the Senate in again today and it appears that he wants a vote on same-sex marriage.

Badly.

Opponents of gay marriage seem antsy.

In a statement, Richard E. Barnes, head of the NYS Catholic Conference, says:

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“The institution of marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block of society, predating any human government and designed to create a stable family structure for children in a home with a father and mother. The wholesale redefinition of this timeless institution to include relationships between two men or two women has been consistently opposed by the state’s Catholic Bishops.

“If the legislature is going to consider such a radical social engineering experiment, it must be done with their most thoughtful pause and consideration. By putting this incredibly controversial measure on the special session agenda in this current atmosphere, the Governor has chosen the worst possible way of addressing it.

“We urge all Senators to vote no.”

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And the Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical lobbying group in Albany, sent out this email:

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New York Governor David Paterson has called for a vote on same-sex marriage during the Wednesday, June 24, 2009, special session of the State Senate. Same-sex marriage legislation has already passed the State Assembly and Governor Paterson is eager to sign the bill into law.  The State Senate is where this bill must be stopped!

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is doing everything within its power to block this legislation, but the bottom line is that senators need to hear from constituents in their districts.  Senators need to know that this issue is of great importance to the people who elected them to office.  Please take action now – before it is too late.

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And now we wait.

Gay marriage debate buzzing behind the scenes

Will a gay marriage vote actually take place in the topsy-turvy NYS Senate?

Gov. Paterson now says he’ll force senators to vote before they break for summer. He said yesterday that he’s calling the Senate into a special session after the nuttiness of recent weeks.

In a related story, Ossining’s Maggie Gallagher (that’s her), a leading foe of gay marriage in NYS, is being accused of running a front organization for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gallagher is president of the National Organization for Marriage, which is spending big money on advertising and lobbying to defeat gay marriage in the NYS Senate. The group is also threatening to mount primaries against GOP senators who vote for gay marriage.

But as my colleague Keith Eddings reports, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating complaints that Gallagher’s group is a “front” for the Mormon church, which of course helped organize support for California’s Proposition 8. The investigation has to do with whether the church failed to report millions of dollars in “nonmonetary contributions” to Gallagher’s group.

Gallagher (who is Catholic) says her group is independent of any religious denomination: “It’s not true. I founded NOM. I’d be happy to work with Mormons, but NOM was not started at the suggestion of Salt Lake.”

Eddings notes that Kim Farah, an oft-quoted spokeswoman for the LDS, did not respond to a question about whether the Mormon church has been working to stop gay marriage in New York and elsewhere.

And away we go…

Yesterday, Gov. David Paterson and Archbishop Timothy Dolan shook hands at St. Patrick’s.

Today, Paterson announced plans to legalize gay marriage in NYS.

Today, the New York State Catholic Conference — which represents Dolan and his fellow bishops –responded with this: “In light of Gov. David Paterson’s introduction today of a bill that would redefine in New York State the historic understanding of marriage as being between one man and one woman, the New York State Catholic Conference points again to a statement from the Bishops of New York State from June 2008. The Conference calls on the legislature to defeat this proposal, for which there is no compelling state interest and which will weaken rather than strengthen the institution of marriage, which is so important to a stable society.”

The full statement from June 2008 is HERE.

UPDATE: State Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Democrat and evangelical minister who opposes same-sex marriage, said it was disrespectful of Paterson to introduce the matter the day after Dolan’s installation.

Diaz said: “I think it’s a laugh in the face of the new archbishop. The Jews just finished their holy week. The Catholics just received the new archbishop. The evangelical Christians just celebrated Good Friday and resurrection. He comes out to do this at this time? It’s a challenge the governor is sending to every religious person in New York and the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge.”

UPDATE: A Quinnipiac University poll last week found that given three choices, 41 percent of New Yorkers say gay couples should be allowed to marry legally, while 33 percent say they should be allowed to form civil unions.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Pool)

‘We’re standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Here is the Gannett News Service report on this morning’s evangelical Christian rally in Albany against recognition of gay marriage:

By JAY GALLAGHER

Gannett News Service

ALBANY — More than 250 evangelical Christian ministers from around the state came to the Capitol today to blast Gov. David Paterson for requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages and to back the Senate for its opposition to legalizing the same-sex unions.

“We’re here to take a stand for the righteous,” said the Rev. Tom Stiles of Rochester. “This is just the beginning of what we’re calling a revival.”

Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, the evangelical churches’ lobbying arm, said today’s demonstration was organized after Paterson’s decision to have state agencies recognize the unions was disclosed on May 28. Same-sex marriages are banned in New York, but are now legal in Massachusetts, California, Canada and some European countries.

Paterson’s directive affects same-sex couples married elsewhere who have moved to New York. It was spurred by a court decision in Monroe County that found a gay couple had the right to equal benefits from the county. He said he would be violating state law if he didn’t extend the benefits to others.

The directive could affect more than 1,000 laws and regulations, ranging from pensions, child custody, income-tax filings and the transfer of licenses. State agencies are due by the end of the month to tell Paterson what specific policies will be affected.

A national group, the National Alliance Defense Fund, has sued to get Paterson’s decision overturned. Several state lawmakers have joined the suit, which is pending in state Supreme Court.

The Democratic-controlled state Assembly earlier this year passed a bill to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state – a measure Paterson supports – but it has not been voted on in the Republican-run Senate.

“We should say ‘thank you’ to every senator for not taking up the homosexual bill,” the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms told the group of clergy. “We’re standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. No legislative body, not even the New York State Legislature, has the power to change the definition of marriage.”

“Marriage is more than a secular contract,” said Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn. “It is a holy union between a man and a woman.”

The recent disclosure that the state Office of Children and Family Services to allows boys who believe they are girls to wear female underwear and makeup in the 30 detention facilities it runs also caused a stir among the ministers and lawmakers.

The children “shouldn’t be allowed to exercise choice about which gender they are,” Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, D-Bronx, said to loud cheers from the ministers.

“We’re beginning to see the erosion and decline of American civilization,” he said at another point.

Republican senators Thomas Libous of Binghamton, Mary Lou Rath of Erie County, George Maziarz of Niagara County, Thomas Morahan of Rockland County and James Seward of Otsego County were among the lawmakers at the clergy rally.

Support, condemnation of gay marriage recognition

c61be219d7e746d28be27d2549a27570.jpgReactions continue to Gov. Patterson’s directive to NYS agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of New York.

From the Reform Jewish world…

Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric B. Stark, Regional Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Greater New York Council, and Arleen Urell, Chair of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, issued a statement welcoming the decision.

It reads, in part:

Gov. Paterson’s announcement is a significant and welcome recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals’ right to share in the personal and legal privileges of civil marriage afforded heterosexual Americans. The directive reflects the important belief on which this country was founded – that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. We celebrate Gov. Paterson’s historic decision and strongly encourage the New York legislature to take the necessary steps toward legalizing same-sex marriage.

As Jews, we are taught that God created humans b’tselem elohim, in the Divine image. As such, all people are deserving of respect and dignity and should be treated equally under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. For too long, our nation’s laws have reflected narrow views of marriage, limiting which couples have their commitment and love sanctioned by the state. Those days are waning.

Meanwhile, the evangelical New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is calling on New Yorkers to write letters to their local paper protesting Paterson’s decision and to call and write Paterson’s office.

An email sent out today says: “BE KIND BUT FIRM about no recognition or benefits to people in these counterfeit marriages.”