Opponents of gay marriage speaking out as votes may near

The possibility of a gay-marriage vote today in Albany has opponents speaking out.

New York State Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes just released this statement:

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In the last several years, voters in 31 states have taken up the issue of changing the timeless definition of marriage and 31 times they have voted to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Just last month in Maine, advocates for reinventing marriage outspent their opponents by two to one and still could not sway voters in that socially liberal state, who easily overturned a law passed by the Maine legislature, despite pre-vote polling predicting a dead heat.

The Maine example follows a pattern wherever a homosexual “marriage” initiative goes before voters – opinion polls routinely overstate public support for this radical social experiment. There is no reason to believe the same is not true in New York. It would be wise for our Senators to keep in mind the lessons of Maine, California and all of the others states that have stood up in favor of marriage: The citizenry does not want their state legislature redefining marriage.

We urge the New York State Senate to stand firm in defense of marriage. The people expect nothing less.

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New  Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical lobbying group in Albany, sent out an email urging members to “Flood legislative inboxes with e-mail,” call elected officials or even come to Albany to lobby in person.

The email also urges followers to pray and fast: “New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms believes in the power of prayer, and while our legislative opponents ridicule this idea, we know that there is a God who hears and answers the prayers of His people. The God of the Bible ordained marriage to be an institution between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:4-5). Any attempt to redefine it is ultimately rebellion against the Creator.”

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In New Jersey, Democrats are pusing a vote on gay marriage before Republican Chris Christie replaces Jon Corzine as governor. Christie says he would veto a gay-marriage bill.

Leaders of a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, N.J., who normally keep to themselves,  have come out to oppose a possible gay-marriage law.

Lobbying for Jesus

I’ve written a few times in the past about the work of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative, evangelical lobbying group in Albany.

I just noticed a new motto on an email alert from the group: “Influencing Legislation and Legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

That cuts to the chase, no?

Among other things, the email includes this: “On Tuesday, October 13, A State Senate Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform will meet in Albany.  The purpose of the meeting is to evaluate the need for and costs of New York State property tax exemptions.  Christians should be paying attention to what sounds like a very droll subject, because it could have great impact on ministries across the State of New York.”

tomandbarbNYCF probably feels that it’s swimming against the tide these days. One of the group’s lobbyists, the Rev. Tom Stiles (that’s him with his wife, Barb), writes on the website that “America is becoming a socialist state.”

He writes:

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Socialism does not work because it provides no real incentive to work hard or produce, because no matter how hard you work, you get no extra pay or reward. People stop exerting themselves and become dependent on the State. Government replaces God.

The Federal government under President Barack Obama has taken over the banking, finance, and auto industries, and is now looking at the environment and health care. Both the President and Congress continue to push our country further in debt in an attempt to buy our way out of the recession.

It won’t work – America needs to come back to God and Biblical principles. But the evidence suggests that we are moving in the opposite direction. American Christians should heed the words spoken to Israel by the prophet Jeremiah, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

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NYCF has banquets coming up across New York State, in Painted Post, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Oneonta, Binghamton and Long Island.

But none in NYC or the Lower Hudson Valley.

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.

Evangelical group trying to rally foes of same-sex marriage in NYS

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative, evangelical lobbying group in Albany, has launched a “40 Days for Marriage” campaign to galvanize opposition to same-sex marriage in the Empire State.

The group explains:

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Forty days marks the time between the New York State Assembly’s passage of same-sex marriage legislation on May 12, 2009, and the end of the legislative session on June 22, 2009. The reference to forty days however, is much more than just a legislative countdown. Rev. Tom Stiles, Director of Church Relations with the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, notes that there is strong biblical imagery connected to the number forty. Stiles points to the fact that:

  • In the Book of Numbers the twelve Hebrew spies spent forty days scouting the land of Canaan (Num. 13:25; 14:34).
  • Moses interceded for the people of Israel for forty days and nights (Deut. 9:25; 10:10).
  • Goliath stood before the Israelites cursing their God for forty days, before young David defeated him with God’s help, a sling and a stone (1 Sam. 17:16).
  • Elijah was refreshed by an angel, and went on the strengthen of that encounter for forty days (1 Kings 19:18).
  • It was in only forty days that Nineveh was to be destroyed for her sin (Jonah 3:4), but Jonah’s preaching was used by God to bring revival to the people of Nineveh and they were spared from judgment.

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The group is asking people to pray for their state senator (who will likely vote on the matter soon), have friends contact the Senate, attend a Stand 4 Marriage Rally on Tuesday, June 9 at 10:30 a.m. outside the Capitol, and to contribute $40 for the cause.

The NYT wrote the other day about the lack of an organized opposition in Albany to same-sex marriage. The article noted that New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms doesn’t have the resources to wage a major campaign.

But they appear to be doing what they can.

A precedent for church taxation?

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative evangelical lobbying group in Albany, is mighty concerned about what it calls the “church taxation bill,” a bill before the state Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

The bill would allow fire districts to impose a special levy on non-profit groups.

The bill explains its purpose like this: “Fire protection is a vital service that is provided to all residents and businesses in a community. Taxes are levied in these districts to pay for these services. Not-for-profits benefit from these fire protection services and should pay this special district tax. In some areas, certain tax exempt organizations do provide a contribution to their local firehouse, but with rising property taxes, the burden of this service should be borne by all the property owners in the community.”

An email alert from NYCF asks its supporters to aggressively fight the bill: “Let your legislators know that you are opposed to A772 because it will place a tax burden on churches. Please ask them to have their name removed from the bill. Church taxation is not a precedent that Christians are willing to accept.”

Possibility of gay marriage in NYS in limbo

As Election Day was nearing, many opponents of gay marriage in New York state were quite anxious about the possibility of the state Senate falling into Democratic hands.

A Democrat-controlled Senate, joining a Democrat-controlled Assembly, could make gay marriage a reality.

Sure enough, Democrats came away with a 32-30 majority in the Senate. But a funny thing happened. Three Democrats — two state senators and one senator-elect — have threatened to support a Republican leadership and keep the Senate under GOP control.

As my colleague Keith Eddings reports today, the “Gang of Three” has several interests — including leadership positions in the Senate for themselves.

But one of the Gang, Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx (that’s him), also wants assurances that a Democrat-controlled Senate will NOT bring gay marriage to the floor.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative evangelical lobbying group that strongly opposes gay marriage, has been watching things develop with great interest.

Rev. Duane Motley, the group’s leader, writes:

And so my friends, the battle for control of the State Senate is not over. It may not be over until January 2009, when the vote is actually taken. Until then we need to pray great wisdom for “The Gang of 3.”

‘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.

Protestant ministers will rally tomorrow to ‘save marriage’

A couple of hundred Protestant ministers are expected to gather in Albany tomorrow morning to protest Gov. Paterson’s call for New York agencies to recognize gay marriages from other states.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, an evangelical lobbying group, is calling for a huge turnout: “NYCF is looking for a thousand Bible-believing ministers who will not bend, blend or bow! We are looking for ministers willing to mobilize for morality.”

duane.jpgThe rally will start in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building at 10 a.m. (Pictured is the Rev. Duane Motley, NYCF’s founder and executive director.)

NYCF is calling on all ministers to sign a petition to “save marriage in New York state.”

At the top of the group’s agenda is this:

Brethren, we must pray not only for the defeat of this bill, but for the salvation of our opponents. They advance this moral wickedness because they are in rebellion against their Creator and do not have a right relationship with Him. Pray that those on the frontlines would have speech seasoned with grace and hearts that never forget the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12).

The New York State Catholic Conference is not taking part in the rally. But the group, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops, is asking Catholics to email Gov. Paterson to express their disapproval.

A prewritten message on the group’s website, which visitors can email to the governor, says:

I am very disappointed by your ill-advised, unilateral decision to recognize out-of-state same-sex “marriages” in New York State. Marriage is the very building block of our society. No interpersonal relationship is more important to a healthy society than marriage. The state has a compelling interest in recognizing and bestowing privileged benefits on marriage, since it is the foundation of a stable society and is the best arrangement for bearing and nurturing children. To arbitrarily redefine it in a way that alters its very essence devalues marriage between one man and one woman, reducing it to simply one more lifestyle choice, instead of the essential engine that drives society. If there are any rights that individual members of society do not enjoy due to the fact that they do not wish to marry members of the opposite sex, let the legislature grant those rights in some other way. As a citizen of this state, and a voter, I strongly urge you to reconsider your action.

Canadian gov’t agency tells minister to stop ‘disparaging’ gays

I got an interesting email today from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative evangelical group that is pretty unhappy with Gov. Paterson’s call for NYS to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

pastor.jpgThe email — as a warning, I guess, of what might come in NY — tells the story of a Canadian pastor named Stephen Boissoin (that’s him). He got in trouble with the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal a couple of years back for writing a letter to the editor that condemned the “propagation” of homosexuality.

I looked it up and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms got it quite right.

The human rights tribunal recently decided that “Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.”

Can you enforce such a ruling in Canada, I wonder.

On June 19, NYers for Constitutional Freedoms is asking all “Bible-believing ministers” to gather in Albany’s Legislative Office Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to challenge Paterson’s decision.