NY should allow gay
From the Web, May 26,
When it comes to legalizing same-sex
marriage in New York, one could logically conclude it's not a question of "if"
And to that question, the answer should be "now."
New York has waited long enough. Other states — including Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire — have recognized what Gov. Andrew
Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and so many others have been
saying: Allowing gays to marry is a matter of basic fairness and equality.
Keep in mind that the states that have taken this important step have done so
without any major repercussions or dire consequences.
Legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York has passed the state
Assembly before but has failed in the Senate.
None of the four state senators from this area — Republicans John Bonacic of New
Hope, Greg Ball of Patterson, William Larkin of Cornwall and Steve Saland of
Poughkeepsie — is on record supporting gay marriage.
But Ball and Saland say they are keeping an open mind on the subject and haven't
made a decision should the matter come up for vote again. They have
previously voted against it, with Ball's decision coming when he was in the
For the record, state Assemblymen Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, and Joel Miller,
R-Poughkeepsie, support gay-marriage legislation. Assemblymen Marc
Molinaro, R-Red Hook, Thomas Kirwan, R-Newburgh, and Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, do
There is, for certain, an understandable uneasiness about the issue for many.
Gay marriage goes against many people's religious teachings and upbringings, and
changes of this magnitude are not always easy to accept.
Same-sex marriage is opposed by many Catholicism, Islam and Orthodox Judaism.
But supporters of gay marriage rightly note it's not a question of religion or
culture, but a question of legal rights and government policy. And there
simply is no sound legal argument for the government to prohibit gay couples
from having the same rights and liberties as straight couples.
As the legislative session moves toward a June 20 ending, Cuomo has been touring
the state to push lawmakers to adopt a bill legalizing gay marriage.
In a video, he says, "From the fight for women's suffrage to the struggle for
civil rights, New Yorkers have been on the right side of history. Indeed
New Yorkers have made history. But on the issue of marriage equality, New
York has fallen behind."
That is a tragically accurate assessment.
While allowing civil unions could alleviate some shortcomings in current law,
gay-rights organizations note such a status could create confusion in the
public's mind and certainly doesn't carry the same weight or respect as
marriage. They are correct in those assessments.
In fact, in a compelling report a few
years back, the New York City Bar Association and Empire State Pride Agenda
identified numerous aspects of state law that either outright deny rights to gay
couples or needlessly complicate their lives, essentially turning them into
second-class citizens. These matters range from dealing with health-care
benefits as a family matter, to having spousal privilege and protections in
legal proceedings. Surviving partners are particularly vulnerable at the
worst possible time, following the death of their loved one, when inheritance
rights, wrongful-death claims, etc., are not as clearly defined as they are for
surviving spouses in a traditional marriage.
How overwhelming are the inequities from a legal standpoint? Consider the
bar association's 106-page report titled "1324 reasons for Marriage Equality in
New York State."
Surely, in their roles as leaders, state lawmakers can come up with some others,
none more important than it's the right thing to do under the very definitions
of fairness and equality.