Marriage Made in Heaven and on Earth

marriage equality nyToday, New York State stands on a historical precipice as it determines the fate of a bill that would legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Along with a groundswell of support, buoyed by a clear majority of State voters who support the measure, there has been an onslaught by those determined to stop such a bill. Yesterday, New York’s Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan weighed in on the issue. He likened a “yes” vote on same-sex marriage to an act in keeping with communist countries such as North Korea or China. He has previously denounced any expansion of marriage as Orwellian social engineering.

One has to wonder if the Catholic Church has lost all relevance when its leaders so blatantly abandon rationality. One doesn’t usually hear of communist countries expanding human rights in response to the will of voting majorities. That is what is happening with regard to the issue of same-sex marriage in New York State. Given Dolan’s argument, awarding women the right to vote was an Orwellian Act. The same would be true of the overturning of ‘separate but equal’ legislation. No one has disputed the Catholic Church’s right to object to same-sex marriage, and provisions have been made to guarantee that the church is not only exempt from conducting same-sex marriage services, but (rather oddly) exempt from having to host receptions for same-sex couples in their halls. Whether the bill is passed or not, it will be business as usual for the church.

Times change. The all-male club was once a time-honored bastion. Admitting women was considered an affront to tradition. However, the problem was that these clubs were centers of influence where business was conducted. Exclusivity left women out of the equation, and staring at glass ceilings. It was also not that long ago that society thought it irrelevant that a disabled person have equal access to public buildings.

Straight couples that marry are protected by over 1,000 special legal considerations. Expanding these rights to gay and lesbian couples will in no way reduce or dilute the rights straight couples enjoy. The fear mongering that has accompanied this issue is nothing but disingenuous.

Peacebuilding demands an equal sharing of rights among defined classes of people. It also demands that we suspend those personal prejudices that would deny these rights to others. It is time for the specious arguments to end. They are beneath a democracy of our stature. The legislators of New York have a chance to make a historical decision that will enrich the lives of many while setting a benchmark for the country to follow.  It is the right thing to do and we wish them the fortitude to vote their conscience.

by William Repicci

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