Reconciliation on same-sex marriage? Well…

Can the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy come up with something like a compromise position on same-sex marriage?

He’s tried, in a new paper called Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Gaddy, the head of the Interfaith Alliance, says: “My purpose in writing this paper is as simple as the subject of the paper is complex. I want to find a way for people with contradictory beliefs, religions, values and opinions to live together without violating the basic nature of our democracy.  I am motivated by confidence in the power of religion to affect reconciliation, and I am also a patriot who embodies the unwavering commitment to freedom and justice integral to the American experience.”

Here’s the thing, though: Gaddy supports same-sex marriage.

Having given his paper a quick once-over, I can’t help thinking that those who support same-sex marriage will like his reasoning.

Those who don’t will find it lacking.

In his paper, Gaddy writes:


Regardless of what happens next in Iowa or in any other state, I remain committed to dialogue about and efforts to find support for two fundamental convictions related to the assurance of equality in law and independence for religion: all citizens should have equal access to civil marriage and to the benefits of marriage provided for citizens in this government. Couples who desire religious marriage can seek a house of worship in which to receive that blessing. But, as is the case now, no house of worship would be legally obligated to provide marriage for a couple whom it does not want to bless. All houses of worship should be free to advocate for, defend and perpetuate the view of marriage that is consistent with their religious traditions and convictions.

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.


Opponents of gay marriage seem antsy.

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


“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.”


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


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.


And now we wait.

Union Theological president calls for Christian witness on ‘marriage equality’

Since I posted earlier today the new NYS Catholic Conference statement opposing same-sex marriage, here is another point of view…

The Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in NYC — one of the country’s primary mainline Protestant think tanks — has sent a letter to the Union community, not only supporting same-sex marriage but urging others to speak out for “marriage equality.”

Here’s what she has to say:


Dear Union Community,

Union has long devoted itself to seeking justice, equality, and freedom for all people, especially those marginalized by structures of injustice and misused power. Watching the marriage equality movement spread throughout our country, the patient work of justice is advancing. Many different interpretations of marriage exist within our traditions, and Union remains committed to engaging in faithful, respectful dialogue across our traditions even as we insist on full civil rights for all. It is thrilling to imagine that we might see an end to discrimination and injustice for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters. But there is much more work to be done!

As faith leaders, we understand the significance of strengthening families through marriage. Most of us have blessed hundreds of marriages with the sanctity of our religious traditions. We have also performed hundreds of civil marriages by the power invested in us by our government. Some of the religious marriages we have performed may have been between two men or two women, and we have had to bear witness to the injustice of knowing that these marriages will not allow these spouses the same rights and responsibilities that straight couples share, access to each other’s health care or rights to their own children.

Religious leaders have the power to act in simple ways to enormous effect to end this injustice and support marriage equality. Many of our elected officials oppose marriage equality bills because they fear religious backlash – they have not heard faithful Christian witness on this issue. We can be those voices. If we fail to speak, we run the risk that the only religious messages heard will be those fueled by fear, hate, and opposition.

I know that many of you are already active in the movement for marriage equality and I invite you to join me in raising our faithful voices to call for justice in New York. You can find resources to aid your own witness to this issue through the Empire State Pride Agenda.

In particular, I encourage you to join the Three Issues Sign-Up, which is a way to raise clergy and lay voices in support of marriage equality in the state of New York. It is easy to do in three simple steps:

  1. Download and print the form (PDF)
  2. Fill out and sign the form
  3. Fax the form to 212-627-4136
    or mail it to the following address:
    Kate McDonough
    Empire State Pride Agenda
    16 West 22nd Street
    New York, NY 10010

I am proud to stand with Union alumni/ae and students in this essential movement for justice and I look forward to sharing the jubilation as we watch the banner of equality unfurl over all of God’s children.

Yours in anticipation of great things,


NYS Catholic bishops: ‘No compelling reason’ for same-sex marriage

The New York State Catholic Conference has just released a new statement on the NYS Assembly’s passage of a same-sex marriage bill.

And here it is:


We face today the prospect of a law in New York which would radically change the timeless institution of marriage.  As pastors of citizens from every corner of our great state, we stand unified in our strong opposition to such a drastic measure.

Throughout history, different cultures have had different customs regarding marriage. But the one constant has been the 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.  Regrettably, the state Assembly has voted to redefine what nature and our common heritage long ago defined for us. We fervently pray that members of the state Senate will stand firm in opposition to this ill-advised legislation, and we call on Catholics and all New Yorkers to contact their Senators to make their voices heard.

Our opposition to this bill is based not only on Catholic teaching regarding human sexuality and the Sacrament of Marriage. Just as importantly, it is based on reason, sound public policy, and plain common sense, as we stated in our 2008 pastoral statement on same-sex “marriage.” (The statement can be found at To briefly reiterate, the state has a compelling legal interest in promoting marriage between men and women in order to create stable families and provide for the safety, health and well being of children.  The state has no such compelling legal interest in recognizing a relationship between two people of the same sex.

If there are injustices against those in relationships other than marriage, those injustices can certainly be reformed and corrected in a way other than by drastically redefining marriage.

We close with a final point from our 2008 statement:

“(W)e want to make absolutely clear that our firm beliefs about marriage … must not be misconstrued to be in any way a condemnation of homosexual people or an attack on their human dignity. Our Church teaches, and we affirm, that we must treat our homosexual sisters and brothers with dignity and love, as we would all God’s children. Indeed the Catechism of the Catholic Church warns that any form of prejudice or hatred – “every sign of unjust discrimination” – against homosexual people should be avoided. (CCC 2358)

The statement is signed by:

+Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

+Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany

+Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

+Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo

Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Diocesan Administrator of Ogdensburg

+ Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester

+William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre

+Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

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:


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.


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.

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)

NYS court to look at recognition of same-same marriages from elsewhere

A big story down the road?

New York state’s highest court said this week it will hear two appeals in cases trying to stop public officials from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Officials in NYS cannot perform same-sex marriages, but the two cases involve Westchester County Exec Andrew Spano and the NYS Department of Civil Service recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere.

I should note that the Iowa Supreme Court today struck down a law banning same-sex marriage. So Iowa is on the way to joining Connecticut and Massachusetts as the only states where gay marriage is legal.

Episcopal Diocese of NY supports civil marriage for same-sex couples

The Episcopal Diocese of New York has come out in favor of civil marriage for same-sex couples.

At its 232nd Convention days ago, delegates approved this resolution:

[6] Resolved, That the 232nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in keeping with Resolution 15 of the 217th Convention of the Diocese, which made “known to the President of the United States, to the United States Senate and House of Representatives our support of full civil rights for all American citizens irrespective of sexual orientation,” calls upon the Governor and the Legislature of the State of New York to ensure civil marriage equality in this state by enacting the necessary legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry; and be it further

[7] Resolved, That copies of this Resolution be sent to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly of the State of New York.

Tina Donovan, Bishop Mark Sisk’s Deputy for Public Affairs, said: “When the delegates were considering an earlier resolution, the bishop said that what we were doing was attempting to discern the will of the Holy Spirit through the messy process of democracy. We think that that was precisely what we did with this vote…”

Of course, homosexuality — in particular, the consecration of an openly gay bishop — has been roiling the Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican world for some time. The Diocese of NY’s decision to take a stand on what is in some ways the parallel civil debate will be cheered by some, jeered by others.

Stephen McFadden, chair of the diocesan committee on LGBT Concerns (who proposed the resolution), said: “Civil marriage provides dignity, rights and protections to same-sex couples and their families when they face the crises that can happen to any family, when a spouse becomes sick or disabled or dies, when we lose our jobs or need health care, or in caring for our children when an emergency occurs. At a time when some religious groups are actively fighting to block same-sex couples from marrying, the Episcopal Diocese of New York is standing up for equality.”

Mormon leadership postpones meeting with gays

One religious group that we don’t see having many public rifts over homosexuality is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Apparently, some higher-ups in the church leadership were to meet with gay Mormons next month, but the meeting has been called off.

The official explanation, the Chicago Tribune reports, is that one of the church leaders tabbed to participate has been reassigned. But David Melson, assistant executive director of Affirmation, an organization of gay and lesbian Mormons, believes that the real reason for the postponement is the debate over gay marriage in California.

The church is urging its 750,000 members in the Golden State to support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that’s on the November ballot.

“The church is playing hardball right now,” Melson tells the Trib. “And a meeting with us would be inconsistent with that position.”

Catholic bishops state case vs. gay marriage

Cardinal Egan and NYS’s other Catholic bishops have released a statement on same-sex marriage.

It is a fairly long and passionate letter, released by the NYS Catholic Conference.

tjndc5-5b552ruo6tgx5cu17p4_layout.jpgA section:

The joining of man and woman in the bond of marriage is a constant and visible reminder of God’s goodness and the beauty of the Divine plan for humankind. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ himself raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. And, indeed, all of the world’s great religions rightfully recognize marriage as a holy union of a man and woman.

Numerous theological and religious arguments could be advanced as to why this bill should be rejected. However, this is not simply a matter of theology, and religious values are not the sole source of opposition to this plan.

Marriage always has been, is now and always will be a union of one man and one woman in an enduring bond. This is consistent with biology and natural law, and should be obvious to all, no matter what their religion, or even if they have no religion at all. It is a mutual personal gift between the two that serves the individual couple in many ways, allowing them to grow in love and, through that love, to bring forth children.

Just as importantly, this union also serves the larger society. Marriage provides a stable family structure for the rearing of children and is the ultimate safeguard so that civil society can exist and flourish. That is why civil society through the ages has recognized its duty to foster and respect marriage between a man and a woman.

To be clear, the state’s historic recognition of marriage is based on the biological fact that the physical union of a man and a woman tends to lead to children. Common sense and empirical evidence tell us that children’s welfare is best served in most cases by their being reared in a stable home with their mother and father. This fact has been recognized and intuited by societies for millennia. Encouraging marriage between a man and a woman, therefore, serves the state’s interests, as well-reared children who live with their mother and father are much more likely to grow to be good citizens, thereby, creating wealth, stability and security for the members of the society.