An unusual but potentially potent alliance has formed in recent weeks to try and keep New York from becoming the sixth state in the country to allow homosexual marriage.
Evangelicals, Jews and Catholics in the state are urgently mobilizing their communities to bring a stop to the legalization of gay marriage. Senators’ offices are being inundated with calls with the Senate expected to vote on the Marriage Equality Act Friday.
“There is a reason marriage is between a man and a woman. Mothers and fathers both contribute something unique to the rearing of children,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, a Baptist minister and executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom.
McGuire said he believes the grassroots campaign is gaining traction among the thousands of evangelical churches in New York though they had little time to mobilize.
“This bill came out of nowhere during Holy Week and it surprised a lot of people,” he said. “Because time was short, we opted for a political, rather than educational approach.”
He also pointed out the irony of the bill’s timing. “It’s interesting that the bill came forward right after Mother’s Day, and is near a vote as Father’s Day approaches. Society sets aside those days because society recognizes that mothers, fathers and marriage are important.” …… Also placing pressure on senators to vote against the bill, Agudath Israel of New York, an organization representing Orthodox Jews, has distributed letters contending that the bill can potentially infringe on some citizens’ rights.
“If the bill becomes law, religious organizations and institutions that oppose same-sex marriage could be subject to legal attacks and severe penalties. Individuals (and the small businesses they own) that conscientiously object to same-gender marriage could also be labeled as unlawful ‘discriminators’ under state law and thus face lawsuits as well as a range of penalties,” the letter, which was drafted by several law professors, states.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of Public Affairs, maintains that elevating same-sex unions to the status of “marriage” would convey an unmistakable message that the state not only sanctions but endorses homosexual activity. At least one undecided senator reportedly expressed concern with the bill after receiving the Jewish organization’s letter.
Perhaps the most visible group trying to protect traditional marriage are the Catholics. Dennis Poust, communications director for the New York State Catholic Conference, said the Catholic Advocate Network, with 65,000 members, has been e-mailing and calling their senators and assemblymen for weeks and that their efforts have indeed stepped up this week.