.- New York Gov. David Paterson on Thursday introduced a bill to permit same-sex âmarriagesâ to be contracted in the state, claiming it to be a âcivil rights issueâ and the âright wayâ spiritually. One Democratic Senator who is organizing opposition to the measure called the bill âa laugh in the faceâ of New York Cityâs new archbishop.
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Paterson defended his action before a news conference in Manhattan.
âAnyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is,â he said. âThis is a civil rights issue. Civil rights don't wait for the right time.â
The governor, who said he was baptized a Catholic, said the proposal was the âright wayâ from a spiritual standpoint.
In 2007 the Democrat-controlled New York legislatureâs lower house, the Assembly, passed a same-sex âmarriageâ bill by an 85 to 61 vote, but it was not put to a vote in the state Senate.
The Assembly is expected to again pass the bill. The Senate is now controlled by Democrats for the first time in more than 40 years. However, their 32 senators only slightly outnumber the 30 Republicans in that body.
At least one Democratic Senator, Sen. Ruben Diaz, has said he opposes Gov. Patersonâs measure.
Sen. Diaz, an evangelical pastor from the Bronx, said it was disrespectful of the governor to introduce the legislation in the same week that Catholics celebrated the installation of the new Archbishop of New York City Timothy Dolan.
Commenting ahead of yesterday's installation, Diaz said, "If I were Governor Paterson, I would abstain from going to St. Patrickâs Cathedral for the welcoming ceremony and to celebrate Mass."
On Thursday he met with religious leaders to discuss how to defeat the bill. According to the senator's website, the meetingâs aim was to inform Hispanics, Catholics, evangelicals and others opposed to same-sex âmarriageâ of his opposition to the proposal and of ways to prevent the billâs passage.
"I think it's a laugh in the face of the new archbishop," Sen. Diaz said before the meeting. "The Jews just finished their holy week. The Catholics just received the new archbishop. The evangelical Christians just celebrated Good Friday and resurrection. He comes out to do this at this time? It's a challenge the governor is sending to every religious person in New York and the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge."
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who supports the measure, said he does not think the bill has enough votes to pass.
A March poll from Marist College showed the governorâs job approval rating was at 26 percent, the Associated Press says.
CNA contacted the Archdiocese of New York on Thursday but was told its spokesman was unavailable.
Speaking before his April 15 installation as archbishop, Archbishop Dolan told a press conference that in his first day in office he would meet with advisers to discuss the most effective way to communicate the positions of the Catholic Church on âcontroversial moral issues.â
He said he would continue to âpreach the truthâ and âapply the immutable teachings of Jesus and his Church to contemporary situations,â including same-sex marriage.
While rejecting the âbully pulpitâ label as having aggressive and bitter connotations, he stressed he will not âshy away from [controversial topics] and wonât sidestep them.â He promised to articulate the Churchâs position and remain âactive and presentâ on principles related to faith and morals.