Bishop confronts New York governor for undercutting democratic process on gay 'marriage'

Bishop confronts New York governor for undercutting democratic process on gay 'marriage'

Bishop William Murphy
Bishop William Murphy


Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy has criticized New York Governor David A. Paterson for ignoring the democratic process in order to recognize same-sex “marriages” in the state and for acting contrary of the common good of the state.


In his weekly column in Long Island Catholic, the prelate began by recalling that in the wake of the decision to approve same-sex “marriages” in Massachusetts, the New York judicial system declared any ruling on the matter beyond its mandate.


However, the bishop pointed out, “previous governors indicated they would not support legislative action in favor of ‘same sex marriage.’ The Assembly and Senate did not seem eager to move in that direction despite strong pressure from special interest groups.”


In his column, Bishop Murphy explained that, “our new governor has decided to circumvent the legislature, the courts and any testing of the will of the people. He has decided by an administrative decree that unions of persons of the same sex which are recognized as ‘marriage’ in another state would be recognized and honored as such here in New York. This is just plain wrong.”

Though the new governor appeared to have brushed aside democracy, the bishop mentioned another important issue.  “Put aside the questionable action of a sitting governor subverting the democratic process of discussion, debate and vote. Put aside the lack of reference to the constitution of the State of New York. Put aside the lack of consultation with the State Senate and Assembly. Put aside the total circumvention of any listening to the will of the people. All these are serious deficiencies that render the governor’s action unseemly and indefensible in a democratic society. The fact is what the truth is: this is wrong and no amount of trying to appeal to ‘fair play’ or ‘equality’ or ‘putting all relationships on the same footing’ can make this right.”


He explained that the state is able to give “certain rights and privileges to married couples” because “the state has a vested interest in the bond that a man and a woman make to each other in public when they marry. That interest is the common good of society which is enhanced and stabilized by marriage as a public institution which is the basis of all other societies. That interest is in the present and future good of society that can be guaranteed in the long run only by stable married and family life which is possible only in the natural order of a union between a man and a woman.”

The prelate continued by explaining that the Church’s teachings do not discriminate, “against homosexual men and women” and that “no one has a right to discriminate against persons because of their sexual orientation.  This is not the denial of a “right” that some have and others do not.”  Bishop Murphy wrote that he sees sexual relationships as “essentially private matters until they are made public by public action. Then they have to be scrutinized to see if they correspond to what is good and right and true for the common good of society.”


“In all these levels, sexual intimacy between persons of the same sex does not pass muster. They do not serve the common good. They cannot do so because they contradict biological teleology and the natural law. This does not impugn the motives or the goodness of any person. This does say that the truth must never become victim to misguided actions that seek to impose a false interpretation of what is real on our society.”

“In this case the governor not only sidesteps democratic process. He acts contrary to the common good and introduces into New York a phenomenon that corresponds to the desires of a few at the expense of the whole and at the expense of the good of New York.”


According to, Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the governor, denied that Paterson was sidestepping the democratic process, and said he was merely explaining what a recent court ruling meant for New York State government.


Bishop Murphy disagreed with this claim and called on New Yorkers to “protest this ill-considered and arbitrary action to the governor as well as to the members of the Long Island delegation in the Assembly and the Senate. And please continue to pray for all our brothers and sisters of any sexual orientation that we might all live in harmony and in truth, respecting one another while insisting on doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong for the good of our society and the common good of all.” also points out that Bishop Murphy’s column has been criticized by David Buckel, chief counsel for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group who stated, “We live in the United States of America and he can't impose his views on others and he's got to respect that line if he's going to be an American."


Diocese of Rockville Centre spokesman Sean Dolan said that the bishop "is not imposing his will. He is exercising his responsibility as the shepherd of this diocese to teach the faith.”

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