The New York governor office’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages contracted outside of New York State has prompted critical reaction from many leaders, some of whom have called the decision “unilateral” and “anti-democratic.”
A Thursday memo from David Nocenti, legal counsel to New York Governor David Paterson, said that state agencies, including those governing insurance and health care, must immediately recognize same-sex marriages legally contracted outside of New York. The memo claimed support in a New York appellate court’s decision saying there was no legal impediment to recognizing the unions until the legislature acts to forbid such recognition.
New York State Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes said the decision was a “unilateral move” and an “unwelcome bypassing” of the state legislature.
“As we have said many times,” Barnes said, “the definition of marriage pre-dates recorded history. No single politician or court or legislature should attempt to redefine the very building block of our society in a way that alters its entire meaning and purpose. The state has a compelling interest in holding up marriage between one man and one woman as the societal model. What our biblical ancestors knew instinctively holds true today: Marriage between a man and a woman is the best way to assure the stable rearing of children and the flourishing of society. It should not be treated as simply one more lifestyle choice, equal to any other, because it is not.”
While saying homosexual men and women must be treated with dignity and should not be targeted by unjust discrimination, Barnes said that, “just as the state cannot declare a man to be a ‘mother’ or a woman to be a ‘father,’ it cannot declare a same-sex union to be a ‘marriage.’”
Matt Daniels, president and founder of the Alliance for Marriage (AFM), said the decision illustrates the need for the federal Marriage Protection Amendment drafted by AFM.
"The anti-democratic fallout of the California Supreme Court decision striking down marriage is not unexpected, and will only continue to crash down upon other states nationwide," Daniels said. "Most Americans - and most New Yorkers - want our laws to send a positive message to kids about marriage, family and their future. Today is a sad day for the people of New York who have lost the right to choose the course that is best for them, their families and their children."
According to Stephen P. Hayford, spokesman for the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, the decision has eroded trust in government. “The flawed decision recently issued by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department -- which may yet be reversed on appeal -- is a flimsy justification for the governor's action,” Hayford said.