Constituents Urge ‘No’ Vote on the SSM Bill (with slide show)

by Marie Elena Giossi

Nearly 30 concerned Catholics protested Queens State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s support for same-sex marriage legislation and rallied outside his Howard Beach district office June 15. Most participants arrived on buses sponsored by the diocesan Government Affairs Office, which organized the rally.

Carrying signs affirming traditional marriage, nearly 30 Catholics rallied outside Queens State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s Howard Beach district office to protest his recent support for the passage of a same-sex marriage bill. In 2009, he voted against a similar measure.

Carrying signs affirming traditional marriage, the intergenerational group prayed the Rosary and sang hymns in English and Spanish as they marched on the sidewalk outside the storefront.

Sen. Addabbo, a Catholic Democrat, serves the 15th Senate District, encompassing several Queens’ neighborhoods, including Howard Beach, Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, Woodhaven, and parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, and Woodside. Two years, he had voted “No” on a similar proposal.

“He’s not representing Catholic sentiments at all,” said Dr. Charles Haunss, of Our Lady of Mercy parish, Forest Hills, and a member of the diocesan Joint Parish Respect Life Committee.

The committee met with the senator on this issue in early June, he said.
“Throughout our conversation, he kept referring to marriage equality. We kept bringing up the issue of conscience. If conscience doesn’t factor in, why do we need a representative?,” he said.

Catholic teaching, Dr. Haunss explained, is clear about why same-sex marriage is not acceptable.

“Marriage is defined as a covenant between a man and a women and the natural fruit of that union is children,” which cannot be produced in same-sex unions, he noted.

“We’re not condemning homosexual people,” he emphasized. “What we’re saying is that we can’t defy the laws of nature, God’s laws… (which) are being replaced by man making his own laws and acting as god.”

He feels the senator is giving way to “outside pressures,” particularly from the governor’s office, and the Church is doing too little, too late to chastise Catholic politicians who use the “personally opposed” argument for supporting measures against their faith.

Patricia McCabe, Sen. Addabbo’s chief of staff, defended the senator who was in session in Albany.

“Regardless of the senator’s own personal views,” she said, he has “a moral and legal obligation” represent the views of his district.

“He was able to vote ‘No’ last time because people (against same-sex marriage) called us,” she said. In 2009, they received about 500 responses – mostly against gay marriage.

This time, McCabe said that a constituent survey yielded over 6,000 responses – 4,839 yeas and 1,176 nays, a ratio of four-to-one in favor of the measure.

“Do you believe the freedom to marry should be extended to gay and lesbian couples?” was the second of three yes-or-no questions in the survey, part of a one-page postal mailing his office says was sent to the senator’s 350,000 constituents this spring. Other questions concerned the N.Y.C. Dept. of Education and MTA.

McCabe said the senator met with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, appeared on Catholic radio, and asked clergy to speak on this issue from the pulpit.

The office is still accepting feedback and staffers verify every person’s address to ensure responders live within district lines.

Resident Ada Cerna, a Catholic, was walking home with her niece when she saw the rally.

While she hesitated to offer an opinion on the bill, she does draw a line between church and state, saying, “I don’t want to see them married in church.”

David Bisono, director of the Catholic youth movement, Jovenes de Valor, attended the rally with 15 young adults, carrying Bibles and Rosary beads.

As they walked, he updated his Facebook and Twitter statuses. “There may not be 10,000 people here,” he said, “but there are 10,000 people out there praying for us.”

Pastor Steve Roser and his wife, Sharon, of Howard Beach’s Assembly of God Church, heard about the rally and joined the crowd.

Roser said he is “very concerned” about the bill, and the “make-it-up-as-you-go-along value system,” so prevalent in today’s world. “There is a higher standard for human conduct other than what human beings think is right and wrong.”

“It’s in the Bible, it’s in our beliefs and it’s in our religion that same-sex marriage is wrong,” said Marika Fraser, 16, a Baptist, who attends Lourdes Academy H.S., Bushwick. “Times have changed but what’s wrong is wrong.”

Elizabeth Garcia, a young woman from St. Leo, Corona, shared those sentiments. “Just because our society is changing doesn’t mean that our beliefs change,” she said.

But this bill, Garcia noted, puts the Church in an “awkward position.” While she believes the Church must stand up for its values, she feels it’s unfortunate that some people perceive the Church’s stance as discriminating against homosexuals.

Not far from the ralliers, two counter-protestors peaceably expressed their opinions.

“I’m not particularly for gay marriage but … everybody’s got rights and who are these people to say you don’t,” said resident Michael Sarter, 57, a non-practicing Catholic, who wore a sign reading: “You can’t help who you fall in love with.”

Michael Hornung, 23, stood few feet from ralliers holding a yellow legal pad with the words: “Well… I support it!”

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2 thoughts on “Constituents Urge ‘No’ Vote on the SSM Bill (with slide show)

  1. I have reservations about the accuracy of the survey results reported by this Senator’s office of his constituents’ wishes.

    Another survey I learned about via “robo” calls made indicated just the opposite finding.

    These “robo” calls were made to Senator Addabbo’s district constituents and followed up with another “robo” call to those residents who did not support this bill.

    The results confirmed in a 4 to 1 ratio that these district constituents did not want legalization of what is called same-sex “marriage.”

    What the Senator’s office is saying needs to be questioned.


  2. Living in Addabbo’s district I firmly believe that the numbers are skewed. Everyone I spoke to is against so called Same Sex Marriage. In addition research shows that poll results often depend on how you ask a question. For example I believe the questionaire sent out by Addabbo asked “Do you support Same Sex Marriage” and did not offer alternates. Many people believe that any civil rights issues / concerns should have or could have been addressed other ways. Thus people did not have a chance to indicate their true position.