Equality for all, or just for some?
The Review Editorial Board. In a heartbreaking defeat for gay rights advocates and a serious misrepresentation of the word “equality,” the New York State Senate defeated a bill Dec. 1 that would have legalized same-sex marriage with a 38-24 vote.
It is important to note, however, that this leaves the bill dead for the remainder of the year; the issue can be brought up again, and undoubtedly will be.
Last month, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage laws, this time through a referendum. The Maine State Legislature voted to legalize same-sex unions earlier this year, but gay rights opponents gathered enough signatures to put the measure on a ballot.
Last year, California voters repealed same-sex marriage legislation that had resulted from the state’s highest court ruling that gay couples had the right to marry.
In Washington, the fight over a proposed same-sex marriage law heated up as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that if the law were passed, the church would cut its social service programs, which assist residents with adoption, homelessness and health care.
This is an absolute travesty of fairness and equality. Gays should have the same privileges, including marriage, as everyone else.
To clarify, the debate is not just about marriage in the religious sense. Marriage in the United States offers a variety of monetary and governmental advantages. To deny those to same-sex couples is to deny them equality under the law, and to say that domestic partnerships and civil unions are the same is ignorant.
While some states grant nearly identical rights to same-sex and heterosexual couples, the majority does not, and neither does the federal government.
Most who campaign against same-sex marriage do so because of religious beliefs.
“While the Catholic Church rejects unjust discrimination against homosexual men and women, there is no question that marriage by its nature is the union of one man and one woman,” Richard E. Barnes, the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said in a New York Times story.
So, what does the church consider “unjust discrimination”?
Apparently, lobbying to prevent equality is not on that list. And, if we aren’t mistaken, isn’t there supposed to be a separation of church and state? It would be naïve of us to believe that religion does not influence government policy, but we can still dream, right?
Had the law passed, New York would have become the sixth state to allow marriage between same-sex couples. However, its repeal just serves as another scathing reminder of how equality is apparently meant for some, not all.
After the vote, Gov. David A. Paterson spoke on the Senate floor, a rarity for him, and said, “These victories come, and so do the losses, but you keep on trying.”
How right you are, governor. So keep on trying, New York. You’ll eventually get it right.
-The Review Editorial Board