The New York Senate passed by 33-29 and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will grant same-sex couples the right to marry starting on July 24, 2011. Thus New York joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont Iowa, and Washington, D.C. in legalizing same-sex marriage.
As a life-long supporter of marriage equality I believe that the new law in the Empire State is common sense. It provides gays and lesbians with a basic human right that we, heterosexuals, take for granted. Meanwhile, it protects certain organizations from government tyranny by not being forced to conduct acts that are contrary to their beliefs.
Here is a link to the text of the bill. In this article I will summarize what its sections mean.
S 2 explains why gays and lesbians should be given the right to marry. It explains that marriage is a fundamental human right and a key to stronger relationships and a better society. Meanwhile, the right to marry granted to same-sex couples will not be necessarily applied to every law, as the last sentence implies.
S 3 is the part of the bill that has been discussed the most. Its S 10-A grants same-sex couples the right to marry and protects them from discriminatory treatment from the state government related to their marriage. Notice that the protection is related to marriage only.
That being said, its S 10-B protects benevolent and religious institutions from being required to perform anything related to marriage. Moreover, they cannot be sued for refusing to provide “accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges” related to marriage. Notice again that the protection is related to marriage only. S 10-B also preserves religious organizations their right to choose whether to employ homosexuals, sell them or rent them housing, admit them or give them any preferences
S 13 explains the procedures for a couple – being of the same gender or of two different genders – to marry and reiterates with capital letters that application for a marriage license cannot be denied based on the two sides’ genders.
S 5 has a dramatic resemblance with S 10-B above. One of the differences is that it is about the clergy and religious leaders. It protects the clergy, ministers of any religion, leaders of any Ethical Culture Society affiliated with the American Ethical Union, including leaders of tthe Society for Ethical Culture in New York City, the leader of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, the Westchester Ethical Society, the Ethical Cultural Society of Long Island, and the Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Society from having to honor any marriage when they are performing their religious duties which include pronouncing people married. S 5 also protects the clergy and religious leaders from being sued for refusing to honor any marriage – be it of the same sex or of different sexes – thus reserving to them the choice to honor a certain marriage and therefore protecting them against government tyranny by not being forced to conduct acts that are contrary to their beliefs.
S 6 explains when same-sex marriages would be allowed to be signed in New York – thirty days after the bill becomes a law – which, according to my calculations, is July 24, 2011.
The Marriage Equality Act passed by the New York legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo is constructed in a way that makes it difficult to be argued against by using different arguments from the well known religion and traditional value ones. It makes the New York State residents better off by making gays and lesbians residing in the state better off without making the rest worse off.