New York makes gay marriage legal. Excelsior!

By Phil Plait | June 27, 2011 6:18 am

As you no doubt heard over the weekend, New York is set to be the sixth state to legalize gay marriage: the state Senate passed a bill, and the Governor has said he’ll sign it.

My sincere and very happy congratulations to all my gay readers! I think this is terrific news, especially since NY is such a big state, the largest to make gay marriage legal. I also want to specifically point out this bill would not have passed without four Republicans signing it into law as well. I especially wish to thank Republican Senator Roy McDonald, who gave this heartfelt speech:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, [bleep] it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.

Also, Republican Senator Mark Grisanti, who said:

I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.

They are precisely correct. It is the right thing to do, and in America all Americans should have the same rights. It’s really just that simple.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this. I hear the same arguments against gay marriage every time it comes up, which is why I’ve written about this topic several times, including here, and
here, and here. I don’t need to add much to those posts; please read them if you have a few minutes.

I do want to mention one particular argument against gay marriage I’ve heard before but was brought up again this time around. It’s especially silly because it’s so clearly wrong. Here it is, from Catholic Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio:

I believe the passage of same-sex marriage is another ‘nail in the coffin’ of marriage… It is destructive because we fail to view marriage in the context of a vocation: a calling to participate in the great enterprise of forming the next generation. Marriage is reduced to an empty honor…

That statement is almost trivially easy to prove wrong. After all, would the Bishop forbid a man marrying a woman who had a hysterectomy? Or to a post-menopausal woman? Or a woman marrying a man who lost his genitals in combat? And if you argue that those couples could adopt, well then, you’ve proven my point. We can allow gay couples to adopt too. After all, children raised in such a way are just as likely to be happy and well-adjusted as with heterosexual parents.

I suspect the real problem at the heart of this issue is civil marriage versus religious marriage. Perhaps, once and for all, it’s time to separate the two. If a religion doesn’t like gays, that’s its right, and it doesn’t have to acknowledge a gay marriage. The government, however, is not allowed to discriminate, so any adults should be allowed to have a civil marriage. I know this is a difficult topic, and sounds like a "separate but equal" issue, but I’m not so sure — if the government doesn’t officially recognize religious marriage, and requires a civil marriage for the rights of partners to be bestowed, that may solve the issue. I’d be very curious to hear other people’s opinions on this, especially those familiar with the issue of civil versus religious marriage.

In the meantime, though, by passing laws as NY and five other states have, it’s sending a strong signal of which I approve. What the State is doing is recognizing the bond that ties humans together. It’s giving participants civil rights involving each other, the same spousal rights I enjoy with my wife.

And you know what? I’m all for that.

Picture credit: The Atlantic/Creative Commons

Related posts:

Being married in California/anywhere
Critical thinking about personal beliefs
Iowa lets people get married
NY State Senate votes against equality (from a previous 2009 gay marriage vote in NY)

MORE ABOUT: gay marriage, New York

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