Friday, June 20, 2008

Ministers in Albany to protest Paterson's gay marriage stance | | Poughkeepsie Journal

Ministers in Albany to protest Paterson's gay marriage stance | | Poughkeepsie Journal

By Jay Gallagher • Journal Albany Bureau • June 19, 2008

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ALBANY -- More than 250 evangelical Christian ministers from around the state came to the Capitol today to blast Gov. David Paterson for requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages and to back the Senate for its opposition to legalizing the same-sex unions.

"We're here to take a stand for the righteous,'' said the Rev. Tom Stiles of Rochester. "This is just the beginning of what we're calling a revival.''

Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, the evangelical churches' lobbying arm, said today's demonstration was organized after Paterson's decision to have state agencies recognize the unions was disclosed on May 28.

Same-sex marriages are banned in New York, but are now legal in Massachusetts, California, Canada and some European countries.

Paterson's directive affects same-sex couples married elsewhere who have moved to New York. It was spurred by a court decision in Monroe County that found a gay couple had the right to equal benefits from the county. He said he would be violating state law if he didn't extend the benefits to others.

The directive could affect more than 1,000 laws and regulations, ranging from pensions, child custody, income-tax filings and the transfer of licenses. State agencies are due by the end of the month to tell Paterson what specific policies will be affected.

A national group, the National Alliance Defense Fund, has sued to get Paterson's decision overturned. Several state lawmakers have joined the suit, which is pending in state Supreme Court.

The Democratic-controlled state Assembly earlier this year passed a bill to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state - a measure Paterson supports - but it has not been voted on in the Republican-run Senate.

"We should say 'thank you' to every senator for not taking up the homosexual bill,'' the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms told the group of clergy. "We're standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. No legislative body, not even the New York State Legislature, has the power to change the definition of marriage.''

"Marriage is more than a secular contract,'' said Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn. "It is a holy union between a man and a woman.''

The recent disclosure that the state Office of Children and Family Services to allows boys who believe they are girls to wear female underwear and makeup in the 30 detention facilities it runs also caused a stir among the ministers and lawmakers.

The children "shouldn't be allowed to exercise choice about which gender they are,'' Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, D-Bronx, said to loud cheers from the ministers.

"We're beginning to see the erosion and decline of American civilization,'' he said at another point.

Republican senators Thomas Libous of Binghamton, Mary Lou Rath of Erie County, George Maziarz of Niagara County, Thomas Morahan of Rockland County and James Seward of Otsego County were among the lawmakers at the clergy rally.

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