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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Fall election could determine future of ‘gay marriage’ in N.Y.; Ariz. drive apparently successful; …

NEW YORK (BP)–With the highest court in New York having ruled against “gay marriage,” the future of homosexual “nuptials” in that state could hinge on which party wins the gubernatorial race and the legislature this fall.

The New York Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — dealt a setback to the homosexual activist movement July 6 when it upheld the state’s marriage laws and refused to legalize “gay marriage.” The 4-2 ruling surprised many homosexual leaders, who had hoped for a friendlier decision in such a liberal state.

Now, though, both sides in the legal battle there will focus on the fall gubernatorial campaign, while likely will pit two men who have opposing views on the issue. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer — the likely Democratic nominee — supports “gay marriage,” while John Faso, the only Republican in the race, opposes it. Spitzer has led Faso by 40-50 points in recent polls, although most people polled know little about Faso.

The current governor, Republican George Pataki, opposes “gay marriage” and applauded the court’s ruling.

“I think the future of this debate really hinges on who’s in the governor’s office,” Dennis Poust of the New York State Catholic Conference told the Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper.

Spitzer pledged July 6 to support a bill legalizing “gay marriage” if he is elected.

“I believe same-sex marriage should be constitutional, should be legal, should be authorized statutorily,” he said, according to The New York Times. “I think in New York there is recognition that this is the right thing to do from a civil rights perspective, and whether that will be sufficient in both the Assembly and the Senate, we’ll have to wait and see, but it is something I will draft and propose.”

Democrats control the New York State Assembly, while Republicans control the Senate. The GOP holds a 35-27 lead in the Senate heading into the November election.

The New York Democratic Party is considerably more liberal than its counterparts in the South and parts of the Midwest and West. In September 2003, the New York State Democratic Committee passed a resolution supporting “gay marriage” — even before the high court of Massachusetts, which borders New York, issued its landmark “gay marriage” decision.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno has sided with homosexual activists on some issues but restated his opposition to “gay marriage” July 6, The Times reported.

“Will a Governor Spitzer be able to sway the Assembly [Democrat] majority?” Poust asked, looking ahead to 2007. “Does the Republican majority in the Senate move further to the right when they don’t have a Republican governor?”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, also supports “gay marriage.”

DEAN CRITICIZES RULING — Adding confusion to his position on “gay marriage,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued a statement July 6 criticizing the New York court’s ruling against “same-sex marriage.”

In the past, Dean has publicly opposed “gay marriage” while favoring Vermont-style civil unions. He may have been the only public official opposed to “gay marriage” also to oppose the ruling.

“As Democrats, we believe that every American has a right to equal protection under the law and to live in dignity,” he said in a statement. “And we must respect the right of every family to live in dignity with equal rights, responsibilities and protections under the law. Today’s decision by the New York Court of Appeals, which relies on outdated and bigoted notions about families, is deeply disappointing, but it does not end the effort to achieve this goal.

“As that essential process moves forward, it is up to the state legislature to act to protect the equal rights of every New Yorker and for the debate on how to ensure those rights to proceed without the rancor and divisiveness that too often surrounds this issue.”

Dean had been under criticism in recent weeks for comments he made to the Christian Broadcasting Network, in which he said, “The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s what it says.” But the platform says nothing about the definition of marriage. In fact, the 2004 Democratic platform was celebrated by liberal activists as the most homosexuality-friendly platform in the history of the two major parties.

ARIZONA AMENDMENT SUCCESS? — A campaign to place a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot in Arizona this November appears to have been successful. The Protect Marriage Arizona coalition says it turned in 307,000 signatures to the state July 6 — significantly more than the 184,000 required. The signatures now must be verified.

The proposed amendment would protect the natural definition of marriage by banning both “gay marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions.

“This campaign is a true example of energized and organized grassroots enthusiasm,” Nathan Sproul, campaign consultant for the Protect Marriage Arizona, said in a statement. “Almost 200,000 of the signatures collected came from volunteers. I don’t know of any campaign in Arizona’s history that has generated that many volunteer signatures for a statewide initiative.”

But the celebration over the apparent success was subdued. Lynn Stanley, the chairwoman of Protect Marriage Arizona, was killed in a car wreck July 3. According to The Arizona Republic, she was killed in a single-car rollover on the interstate around 6:30 a.m.

“She, more than anyone else in Arizona, is responsible for this momentous occasion,” Sproul said. “Her passing leaves large shoes to fill, but I know that Lynn would want nothing less than for voters of Arizona to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Arizona would become the seventh state to vote on an amendment this November. Colorado could join that list.

AMENDMENT DELAY IN PA. — The Pennsylvania legislature recessed the first weekend of July without agreeing on language to a constitutional marriage amendment, effectively killing any chance for placing an amendment on the ballot in 2008, the York Daily Record reported. The earliest the amendment will appear on the ballot now is 2009, the newspaper said.

The House and Senate each passed an amendment, although each amendment had different language. According to Pennsylvania law, an amendment must pass two consecutive sessions before appearing on the ballot.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust