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LI Catholics side with Murphy on same-sex marriage

Catholics across Long Island Sunday mostly sided with Bishop William Murphy in his battle with Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi over same-sex marriage. Murphy criticized Suozzi, a practicing Catholic, for his switch from being in favor of civil unions between gays to supporting gay marriage. In a newspaper column last week, Murphy said Suozzi's stance on the issue goes against church teachings. At Our Lady of Loretto Roman Catholic Church in Hempstead, several parishioners applauded Murphy's public criticism of Suozzi. Augustine Ojo, who read the bishop's column in the newspaper of the Rockville Centre Diocese, said he generally backs Suozzi's policies, but disagrees on the issue of gay marriage. "He ought to stick more to the Catholic doctrine if he's going to claim membership in the Catholic Church," said Ojo, 67, of Hempstead. David Martinez said he thought Suozzi's political interests ultimately won out. "He's Catholic, but he's a politician too," said Martinez, 44, of West Hempstead. "He's thinking of votes." At St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Center Moriches, Marie Gordon said that while she thinks Suozzi should stick to his religious beliefs, she understands that in politics, public opinion can be influential. "Politics makes a person change a lot," said Gordon, 75, of Eastport. "You say no [to gay marriage] and then you get into office and bingo, you change. I guess it's a normal thing." Suozzi has said he changed his position on gay marriage because he thought it was wrong. Tom Lucas, 48, of Center Moriches, said Suozzi can't be both Catholic and a supporter of same-sex marriage. "If you're going to be a buffet Catholic, where you pick and choose [what teachings to heed], then don't call yourself a Catholic," he said. At St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Oyster Bay, some churchgoers invoked a higher authority in defending the rights of same-sex couples. Josephine Villagomez, 52, of Glen Cove, said she would like to see the church become more inclusive and accepting. "I think God loves all his people," she said. "And if God loves everybody, I think the churches should accept them as they are." - With Reid J. Epstein and Laura Rivera

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