Gay couples can start marrying in New York state in 30 days after the New York Senate voted in favor of the bill 33-29 and the governor signed off on it last night. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has championed the bill and he was quick to sign it into law.
Four Republican Senators voted in favor of the bill, allowing it to pass.
New York is now the largest state in the United States where gay marriage is legal.
Despite religious protection exemptions in the bill, reactions from the Christian right published so far are predictably angry.
Religious Protection Clause in Same Sex Marriage Bill.
The bill includes protections for legally-recognized religious groups, who are not required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, "advantages," good or privileges for gay wedding ceremonies. They can also refuse to wed same sex couples without penalty.
Section 10-b of the domestic relations law, as added by a chapter of the laws of 2011, amending the domestic relations law relating to the ability to marry, as proposed in legislative bill number A. 8354, is REPEALED and a new section 10-b is added to read as follows:
S 10-B. RELIGIOUS EXCEPTION. 1. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY STATE, LOCAL OR MUNICIPAL LAW, RULE, REGULATION, ORDINANCE, OR OTHER PROVISION OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, A RELIGIOUS ENTITY AS DEFINED UNDER THE EDUCATION LAW OR SECTION TWO OF THE RELIGIOUS CORPORATIONS LAW, OR A CORPORATION INCORPORATED UNDER THE BENEVOLENT ORDERS LAW OR DESCRIBED IN THE BENEVOLENT ORDERS LAW BUT FORMED UNDER ANY OTHER LAW OF THIS STATE, OR A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION OPERATED, SUPERVISED, OR CONTROLLED BY A RELIGIOUS CORPORATION, OR ANY EMPLOYEE THEREOF, BEING MANAGED, DIRECTED, OR SUPERVISED BY OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH A RELIGIOUS CORPORATION, BENEVOLENT ORDER, OR A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION AS DESCRIBED IN THIS SUBDIVISION, SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE SERVICES, ACCOMMODATIONS, ADVANTAGES, FACILITIES, GOODS, OR PRIVILEGES FOR THE SOLEMNIZATION OR CELEBRATION OF A MARRIAGE. ANY SUCH REFUSAL TO PROVIDE SERVICES, ACCOMMODATIONS, ADVANTAGES, FACILITIES, GOODS, OR PRIVILEGES SHALL NOT CREATE ANY CIVIL CLAIM OR CAUSE OF ACTION OR RESULT IN ANY STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTION TO PENALIZE, WITHHOLD BENEFITS, OR DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SUCH RELIGIOUS CORPORATION, BENEVOLENT ORDER, A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION OPERATED, SUPERVISED, OR CONTROLLED BY A RELIGIOUS CORPORATION, OR ANY EMPLOYEE THEREOF BEING MANAGED, DIRECTED, OR SUPERVISED BY OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH A RELIGIOUS CORPORATION, BENEVOLENT ORDER, OR A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION.
2. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY STATE, LOCAL OR MUNICIPAL LAW OR RULE, REGULATION, ORDINANCE, OR OTHER PROVISION OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL LIMIT OR DIMINISH THE RIGHT, PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION ELEVEN OF SECTION TWO HUNDRED NINETY-SIX OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW, OF ANY RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL INSTITUTION OR ORGANIZATION, OR ANY ORGANIZATION OPERATED FOR CHARITABLE OR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, WHICH IS OPERATED, SUPERVISED OR CONTROLLED BY OR IN CONNECTION WITH A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, TO LIMIT EMPLOYMENT OR SALES OR RENTAL OF HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS OR ADMISSION TO OR GIVE PREFERENCE TO PERSONS OF THE SAME RELIGION OR DENOMINATION OR FROM TAKING SUCH ACTION AS IS CALCULATED BY SUCH ORGANIZATION TO PROMOTE THE RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES FOR WHICH IT IS ESTABLISHED OR MAINTAINED.
3. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED OR CONSTRUED TO LIMIT THE PROTECTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS UNDER SECTION THREE OF ARTICLE ONE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
S 2. Subdivision 1-a of section 11 of the domestic relations law, as added by a chapter of the laws of 2011, amending the domestic relations law relating to the ability to marry, as proposed in legislative bill number A.8354, is amended to read as follows:
1-a. A refusal by a clergyman or minister as defined in section two of the religious corporations law, or Society for Ethical Culture leader to solemnize any marriage under this subdivision shall not create a civil claim or cause of action OR RESULT IN ANY STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTION TO PENALIZE, WITHHOLD BENEFITS OR DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SUCH CLERGYMAN OR MINISTER.
(Full Text of Bill at New York State Senate website.)
These protections are not good enough for Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, who sent out a press release immediately after the bill's passage:
"Enormous political coercion has resulted in a profound failure of moral courage in the New York Senate. A clear majority of the people of New York oppose counterfeit 'marriage,' but Gov. Cuomo and anti-family lawmakers have shown that their allegiance is to a small but vocal minority seeking to redefine marriage and family.
"The so-called religious protections that were tacked on to the bill will ultimately do nothing to protect the religious rights of New York citizens. As we go forward there is little doubt that the "incentives," some taxpayer funded, used to sway votes, especially Republican ones, will be exposed.
Perkins is demanding that the U.S. Congress intervene so that it is a requirement that voters, not legislators, decide about marriage equality.
As the Legislature Gives, the Religious Right Vows to Take Away.
The National Organization For Marriage, which has millions of dollars at its disposal and is directed by Mormon, Catholic and Opus Dei leaders, issued a press release titled "We Pledge $2 Million to Reverse Same-Sex Marriage in New York," in which the organization promised to campaign against Republican senators who voted for the bill's passage:
“The Republican party has torn up its contract with the voters who trusted them in order to facilitate Andrew Cuomo’s bid to be president of the U.S. Selling out your principles to get elected is wrong. Selling out your principles to get the other guy elected is just plain dumb.Gay marriage has consequences for the next generation, for parents, and for religious people, institutions and small business owners. Politicians who campaign one way on marriage, and then vote the other, need to understand: betraying and misleading voters has consequences, too. We are not giving up, we will continue to fight to protect marriage in New York, as we are actively doing in New Hampshire and Iowa.”
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and bishops around the state released a statement condemning the passage of the law by the Legislature, saying they were "deeply disappointed and troubled.""Our society must regain what it appears to have lost - a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America's foundational principles," the statement from the Roman Catholic leader read.