By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Even before the ink dried on a new bill allowing same-sex marriage in the state of New York, opponents began warning that lawsuits are on the way because the so-called “religious protections” that were tacked onto the new law will not be able to protect the faithful.
“It is believed that a number of lawsuits will be filed on both sides of the issue to challenge the supposed religious protections,” said Michelle Mulledy, NY state director of Concerned Women of America (CWA).
“These protections were a smoke screen that will not hold up when challenged. These protections do not extend to people like bakers, florists and others whose religious beliefs would be violated if forced to provide their services at a same-sex ‘marriage.’ We feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Mulledy contends that the homosexual community wants more than “marriage”. “They want complete acceptance by society,” she says. “One of the biggest questions that face us now is what will be taught in the public schools in regards to same-sex marriage.”
Taking the most heat over passage of the law are the Republicans who changed from a no- to a yes-vote, such as Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senators Stephen Saland and Mark Grisanti.
“Enormous political coercion has resulted in a profound failure of moral courage in the New York Senate,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “A clear majority of the people of New York oppose counterfeit ‘marriage,’ but Gov. Cuomo and anti-family lawmakers have shown that their allegiance is to a small but vocal minority seeking to redefine marriage and family.”
He added: “While it was the Democrats who were pushing this agenda, it is the Republicans in the NY Senate who ultimately allowed this to happen, especially Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Sadly, the families of New York are not represented well by either of the state’s major parties on this issue.”
In spite of an all-out effort on the part of the New York Catholic bishops to energize opposition to the bill, the Church was outmaneuvered by back-room deals and Catholic governor Andrew Cuomo who was determined to get the bill passed. He personally made dozens of phone calls and held numerous meetings to persuade undecided lawmakers to vote for the bill, much to the delight of his live-in girlfriend whose brother is openly gay. To those Republicans who feared a backlash from their constituents if they voted for the law, Cuomo even went so far as to personally offer to use his high-popularity across the state to buffer voter outrage.
Archbishop Dolan, who has been an outspoken opponent of the law, decried its passage. “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,” he said in a statement signed by all the bishops of New York.
After restating Church belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, he went on to say that, “This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths. We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.”
Lawsuits are indeed expected, and any one of them could derail the whole bill. One of the concessions the Republicans managed to get into the bill is what is known as an inseverability clause. This means that if a court finds any part of the act to be invalid, the entire legislation could also be ruled invalid. The clause was an important provisions to Republicans because it means that the marriage legislation would be at risk if the religious exemptions were successfully challenged in court.
Proponents of traditional marriage are vowing to fight on.
Penny Nance, CEO of CWA promised that “CWA will educate our members in the coming days on the voting records of these legislators. A recent poll by the Alliance Defense Fund found that 61 percent of Americans oppose same-sex ‘marriage.’ In fact, whenever this question is brought before the people in a ballot measure traditional marriage wins. Other than Manhattan, the people of New York are no different, but the legislature has chosen for them. I expect the final chapter has yet to be written on this.”
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