Religious leaders blast new marriage law

Robert Moore of New York waves a pride Robert Moore of New York waves a pride flag outside the Capitol in Albany, after the state Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. (June 24, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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A broad range of groups -- including the Roman Catholic Church, nonprofits and one state Democratic senator -- blasted the state's new same-sex marriage law, and some promised they would fight to overturn it.

Even the provision intended to protect religious-based agencies from discrimination claims if they refuse to carry out same-sex marriages will not change the fundamental opposition, said Sean Dolan of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Dolan said the church teaches that "marriage is between one man and one woman" with the hope of producing children.

"The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled," the eight Catholic bishops of New York State said in a statement. Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, who signed the statement, had no further comment, Dolan said.

"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves," the statement said.

Brian Brown of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, a nonprofit that also played a major role in opposing the law, said, "It's a tragic day for New York. I think it's going to be a disaster for the Republican Party."

He said his group plans to spend $2.5 million to defeat Republicans who voted for the bill, and that the organization and other opponents would seek to have a referendum on the law. But that seems a virtual impossibility in New York State, where two consecutive, separately elected legislatures must approve all public referendums.

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Still, he pledged to fight. "This is not over. It's just begun," he said.

Sen. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Shirley who voted against the bill, said, "Republican senators that voted in favor of this legislation are going to have to explain their vote. The democratic process redefined traditional marriage, whether you were for it or against."

The sole Democratic senator to vote against it, Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, who is also a minister, said during the vote late Friday, "God, not Albany, settled the issue of marriage a long time ago."

The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a self-described "pro-family" nonprofit that says it represents some 5,000 mostly evangelical churches, said, "Despite today's vote, the people of New York recognize that marriage provides a strong foundation for a thriving society. State senators who have chosen to pursue their own agenda or the agenda of liberal activist groups are ignoring the 62 percent of Americans who believe marriage is one man, one woman, nothing else."

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