Gay Marriage Supporters Celebrate, Religious Groups Protest

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The Lesbian and Gay community have reason to celebrate today because the New York State Senate has passed a bill that allows same sex marriage. New York is the largest state so far to adopt the bill and will be the sixth state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law at 11:15pm on Friday; the law will take effect on July 24, 2011.

The decision passed 33-29, and was the climactic end to of weeks of contentious debate and negotiations between Governor Cuomo and the Republican-controlled Senate. Even though the bill passed in the Assembly, many doubted if the bill had secured enough votes to pass in the Senate. After a few of the biggest undecided’ backed the cause like Republican Roy McDonald who in a bellicose manner defended his decision, saying “[email protected] it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing” the vote went in favor of gay marriage, according to the Huffingtonpost.com.

Gay rights advocates are hoping this historic vote will set off a chain reaction across the country and help the cause regain its traction after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009. Similar attempts failed in New Jersey, Maryland and Rhode Island in 2010.

“We are leaders and we join other proud states that recognize our families and the battle will now go on in other states,” said Sen. Thomas Duane, a Democrat. New York came late to the party, but the gay and lesbian community isn’t complaining because of the state’s size, and international stature and its role as the birthplace of the gay rights movement, which is considered to have started with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in 1969.

Some gay couples are nervously optimistic and a little more muted in their celebration because for five months in 2008, gay marriage was legal in California, 18,000 same-sex couples rushed to tie the knot there only to have voters nullify the state Supreme Court ruling before the ink was even dry on their licenses. The fate of California’s ban is now in the hands federal appeals court.

Court challenges in New York are a foregone conclusion, that is certain, but same sex marriage advocates say New York State- unlike California- makes it very difficult for the voters to repeal laws at the ballot box. Nullifying the law would require a constitutional convention, a long, drawn-out process. While this historical step was celebrated by many gay couples and gay rights supporters, anger and consternation over the passing of this bill will not end in the foreseeable future.

“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,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the bishops of New York State to ibtimes.com.

“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. 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,” read the statement.

“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.”

“Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.”

Beverley Nichols once said, “Marriage – a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose.”

Russell W. Dickson, lives in upstate NY, and is a Freelance journalist. He has written for both print and online news/opinion pages.Russell holds a B.A. in English, minor Journalism from The University at Albany, Albany, NY. His writing experience spans more than a decade and his work has graced the pages of newspapers, magazines, online news orgs, and political websites in both the U.S. and abroad.