Sacredness of Marriage At Core of SSM Battle

by Nancy Frazier O’Brien

Senator Addabbo
Carrying signs affirming traditional marriage, nearly 30 Catholics rallied in Howard Beach outside the office of Queens State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who voted in favor of same-sex mariage.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – It was a fight involving an age-old definition of marriage, with several Catholics playing key roles.
But in the end, the effort to stop a same-sex marriage bill in the New York Legislature came down to money and political favors – neither of which were at the disposal of Catholic leaders and their allies working to keep the traditional view that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
“Money talked in this case,” said Dennis Poust, director of communications for the New York State Catholic Conference.
By a 33-29 vote late June 24, the state Senate approved legislation making same-sex marriage legal in New York State. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat and a Catholic, signed it into law later that evening.
Poust said the strategy used by proponents of the legislation was “very simple – millions and millions of dollars from wealthy gay-rights advocates from all over the country, a billionaire mayor in New York City willing to spend whatever it took, and an extremely determined governor willing to do anything to get his way.”
“That’s not something the Church can compete with,” he added. “We don’t have money to throw around and even if we did, it wouldn’t be permitted.”
Poust also said there were “all sorts of backroom deals and promises to senators” who voted to support same-sex marriage, as well as pledges by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “open up the pocketbooks” for those legislators. “There was a lot of arm twisting, a lot of cajoling,” he said.
In a message to Catholic New Yorkers after the vote, the bishops who head the eight New York dioceses thanked the legislators and citizens who worked for defeat of the legislation.
“We know the pressure that was brought to bear on them, and we admire their courage and yours in attempting to defend marriage and protect religious freedom,” the bishops said. “Many surely believed that Catholics would simply shrug their shoulders and go along with this radical act of social engineering. Yet you did not do that.”
The bishops expressed “particular disappointment with those elected officials who publicly profess fidelity to our Catholic religion but whose public stance is at odds with a fundamental teaching of that faith.”
Among those voting in favor of same-sex marriage was Republican Sen. Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo, who said on the Senate floor that “as a Catholic I was raised to believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
But he said he “would not respect myself if I did not make an informed decision based on the information before me,” and had ultimately concluded that “I cannot deny anyone in my district and across New York the same rights I have with my wife.”
Poust said the New York bishops have expressed frustration with Catholic legislators who say they are personally opposed to same-sex marriage but feel compelled to vote for it anyway.
“The idea that you can claim to be a faithful Catholic and take a position that is at the opposite extreme of what the Church teaches is no longer acceptable,” he said.
Passage of the same-sex marriage legislation prompted Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to direct Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens “to refuse any distinction or honors” bestowed by Cuomo or by any legislator that voted for same-sex marriage and to tell pastors and principals “not to invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.”
In a phone interview on Currents, the diocesan cable TV news show, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said Bishop’s DiMarzio’s action was in line with the direction of the national bishops’ conference which says that no honors be given to Catholic politicians who support abortion.  He said, “I very much commend Bishop DiMarzio for this very resonable yet courageous action.”
State Sen. Martin Golden (R.C., Brooklyn), who voted against same-sex marriage, “I give him (Bishop DiMarzio) credit for  taking a positive way of dealing with this. You have to say to these politicians, ‘Look if you’re not going to stick to your religious values, then why are you coming into our churches and talking to our people.’
“I think we need more bishops like Bishop DiMarzio across the country.”
Poust said he did not expect adoption of a similar policy statewide, but “it will continue to be a diocesan bishop’s call” about what to do in his own diocese.
The legislation exempts any clergy members who decline to perform same-sex weddings and protects any employee “being managed, directed or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order or a not-for-profit corporation.”
It also says failure to provide same-sex ceremonies would not “result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised or controlled by a religious corporation.”
It does not cover individuals who act on their own out of religious conviction.
When the law takes effect, in late July, New York will become the sixth state to permit same-sex marriage, more than doubling the number of people for whom same-sex marriage will be an option. It currently is allowed in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, in addition to the District of Columbia.
Renewed efforts to pass same-sex legislation or place the issue before voters are expected in Maryland, Rhode Island, Maine, Oregon, Delaware, Minnesota, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, despite what they called a “sad moment in our state’s history,” the New York bishops and their representatives at the Catholic conference will continue to work with Cuomo and the Legislature on behalf of the poor and vulnerable, the unborn and Catholic school parents, among others, Poust said.
“We can’t afford to cut off relations with legislators or with the governor because we have other fights to fight,” he said.  “There are many more issues of grave concern to us.  So we’ll just get up and brush ourselves off and continue on.”

Contributing to this report was Ed Wilkinson.

8 thoughts on “Sacredness of Marriage At Core of SSM Battle

  1. When is Governor Andrew Cuomo going to be excommunicated for his public scandal in champion gay marriage and living with a woman who is not his wife?

  2. Thank You Bishop DiMarzio for firmly choosing God’s will over countless governments, including our own, rising and falling over 2000 years while the Church remains standing.

  3. Francis Donovan rightly points out that Governor Cuomo championed Same Sex Marriage. However, two “Catholic” Senators in the Brooklyn Diocese who voted for SSM should be mentioned. The Senators are Joseph Addabbo and Tony Avella. Without their support, the vote would have been 31-31. In addition, numerous “Catholic” Assembly members in the Brooklyn Diocese supported SSM. The only Catholic Assembly Member who rejected it was Mike Miller. Many people are unaware that Archbishop Molloy High School has both Joseph Addabbo and Governor Cuomo in its Hall of Fame. The reason I’m aware of this fact is that my son attends AMHS. What’s even more ironic is that Mike Miller attended AMHS, however he’s not in its Hall of Fame. Catholic values anyone?

  4. Thank you Bishop DiMarzio. You have stood your ground and your trumpet is not uncertain. This enactment signals a rupture in the moral ethos of the community. This was a squalid act done secretly in the dark of night.

    Is there any act performed by a “Catholic” that finally results in his or her acquiring the status of “non-Catholic?” Or is Catholicity mererely a symbol, an ethnic heirloom one never loses no matter how irrelevant it becomes to one’s way of life? Just asking.

  5. I have the July 9th edition of the The Tablet sitting on my desk.

    On the front page it states: R.I. Bishop: Civil Unions Unacceptable as the headline and then in the content that the Bishop is “deeply disappointed” at the decision to permit civil unions.

    Then on page 2,in Up Front & Personal – An Alien Concept of Marriage – it says regarding New York, “… it would have been better if state officials had granted legal recognition to same-sex couples in the form of “civil unions”.

    Then on page 4, in Put Out into the Deep – Religions Place in a Free Society – ends with “work to make sure that liberty and justice are available to everyone.” This supposedly written by the Bishop of Brooklyn.

    Can someone in this Diocese please make up the mind of the Bishop on which idea to represent in this communication vehicle? Is someone reading this content?
    Tim Carr

  6. Many years ago, my young brother in law tried to commit suicide. Why? He was gay, and he knew his parents, Irish Catholic, daily Communicants, would never accept that. By the grace of God, he didn’t crash the car he was driving, but he disappeared to another part of the country for almost a year.

    Now, as squeamish heterosexuals, we can tyrannize the minority, overlook the content of their character, and choose to see only sexual acts that are different from ours as their defining traits. However, the defining characteristic that we all share, gay and straight, is that we love. And love, brothers and sisters, is what we’re all about.

    There are gay partnerships of love and devotion that put our straight marriages of short duration to shame. God didn’t give us heterosexuals a free pass to demonize and bully our gay brothers and sisters.

    Let’s go back and reread Acts 10: “I see now that God shows no partiality . . .”


  7. To have a gay relative is not too gay. It is a test and we love him more because of his problem but thar does not mean we can change the moral code given in the 10 commandments
    Ga\yt marriage is a dead end.