By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
New York State Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican who ran for office in 2010 as an opponent of same-sex “marriage” is under fire for telling a local newspaper that “If I take the Catholic out of me, which is hard to do, then absolutely they should have these rights.”
“He was such a vocal opponent of gay ‘marriage,'” recalled Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. “He came to us, and he came to a lot of other people, when he was running against a Democrat who had voted for the gay ‘marriage’ bill in 2009, and he said he was unalterably opposed to same-sex marriage. ‘Unalterably’ that’s a quote from him.”
Just 11 days before the vote, Dr. Kevin Backus, chairman of the Grand Island Conservative Party, claimed that Grisanti privately confirmed himself as a “No” vote on “Marriage Equality.”
But in the end, he cast aside his religious convictions and voted in favor of the bill. Knowing his political future may be doomed, Grisanti acknowledged in a floor speech that “many people who voted for me will question my integrity” because of his change of position.
That is precisely what the Richard E. Barnes, Executive Director of the New York Catholic Conference, said about Grisanti’s flip-flop, accusing him of showing a lack of integrity as a Catholic by “ignoring” the “teachings he knows full well” on the subject of family life.
“Obviously, he’s acknowledging that he does understand the Catholic position,” Barnes told CNA. Grisanti seemed to be “making the assessment that, while it was ‘hard to do,’ he has ‘taken the Catholic out of him’ for the purposes of this vote. . . . I don’t think that a public official should ever ‘take the Catholic out’ of himself or herself, because Catholic positions are meshed perfectly with public policy positions,” said Barnes.
“No person should say that they are a public official and need not live according to the tenets of their faith. And I find it disappointing that he felt he had to do that.”
In a statement issued after the vote, Grisanti said he could not “deny anyone in my district and across New York the same rights I have with my wife,” but Barnes says this reasoning contains faulty logic.
“He substitutes the notion of marriage as a relationship between any two people, in the place of the longstanding legal state interest of a man and woman having and raising children in a stable family,” Barnes said.
He cited the case of Hernandez v. Robles in which the New York Court of Appeals rejected the notion of same-sex marriage as a constitutional civil right in the state, saying that the state has a legitimate interest in the rearing of children.
Barnes said his organization “warned both elected officials and the judiciary in New York, for a long time,” that ignoring this state interest and redefining marriage “will open the door to a situation where marriage is viewed simply as granting benefits for a relationship between two individuals.”
If this occurs, Barnes said, “the door will be open to abandonment of all principle of natural law underlying marriage.”
Even the public finds behavior such as Grisanti’s to be repugnant. Gallagher pointed to a recent New York Times article, featuring interviews with constituents in the districts of four senators who had changed their votes on the matter.
“They actually talked to a 27-year-old Republican who favors gay ‘marriage,’ who said he would never vote for Grisanti again because he’s such a liar,” she said.
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