Cardinal Timothy Dolan and bishops from around New York State headed to the state capitol today for their annual lobbying trip — and the cardinal offered some choice insight, and new information, to a reporter from the New York Daily News:
Cardinal Dolan revealed for the first time that the Catholic Church was caught flat-footed on last year’s gay marriage vote in New York — insisting it was “burned” by Senate Republicans who claimed it didn’t have a prayer.
“We got burned last year when we were told the redefinition of marriage didn’t have much of a chance — and of course it did,” Dolan told the Daily News as he prepared for Monday’s annual Albany lobbying trip.
“Our Senate leaders, we highly appreciated them being with us all along,” he explained. “When they kind of assured us it didn’t have much of a chance — not that we let up, but we probably would have been much more vigorous and even more physically present if we knew there was a chance.”
In the week leading up to the vote, when protesters on both sides loudly filled the Capitol, many wondered why top Church leadership wasn’t there. Dolan was across the country at a conference.
“We got a little stung, and it could be as much our fault as anyone else’s,” Dolan said.
In the end, same-sex marriage passed the Senate 33-29, with four Republicans voting for it.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos had stressed at the time that while he opposed gay marriage, he was letting his members vote their consciences, a Skelos aide said.
While the two disagreed on the issue, Dolan said Cuomo was always upfront about his position.
While there are issues the Church still opposes lawmakers on, Dolan and the bishops plan to congratulate state leaders for what he deemed a new sense of purpose and value in Albany.
“There’s a lot of areas where we agree,” he said. “When we go up, we’re always careful not to just be naysayers.”
A top priority for the Church this year is blocking a bill to strengthen abortion rights in New York.
It was a question about the unlikely chance of that bill passing the Republican-controlled Senate that got Dolan talking about the need for vigilance after last year’s the gay marriage vote.
The cardinal gave measured support for Cuomo’s push for pension reform, noting that even the Church is considering trimming retirement benefits to deal with tough fiscal realities.
“As long as it can be done without hurting the dignity and security that people have, given the huge deficit and economic strain the government is under, there might have to be some trimming,” he said.
Dolan also had positive things to say about Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s push to raise the minimum wage, though he wouldn’t delve specifically in how high it should go.
“The Church would say we are with you in principle, the cardinal said. “Anything to help the poor is going to be good.”