ALBANY, N.Y. (BP)–The man who likely will become New York’s next governor vowed Oct. 5 to push for “marriage” for homosexual couples if elected and said he believes “gay marriage” is a civil right.
Democratic nominee Eliot Spitzer, who leads the Republican nominee by as much as 50 points in pre-election polls, previously had stated his public support for “gay marriage,” although he hadn’t embraced it so strongly. Spitzer made his latest comments during a speech to the Empire State Pride Agenda, a homosexual activist group.
“We should make gay marriage legal in New York State,” Spitzer said, according to a text of the speech cited by the Associated Press. “No New Yorker should be deprived of the right to marry the person of their choice, regardless of gender. This is not about forcing any religion to perform or recognize gay marriage. It’s simply about permitting gay and lesbian couples the right to live in stable, long-term married relationships.”
Spitzer’s comments came just months after the highest court in New York state refused to legalize “gay marriage.” In light of that ruling, homosexual activists now are eyeing the state legislature. Although the Democratic-controlled Assembly might pass a “gay marriage” bill, it likely would face an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, AP said.
Spitzer currently is the state’s attorney general.
“New York State needs to pursue a vision of civil rights that accounts for every person’s desire to make the most of their potential that accounts for the need to remove barriers people face because of their race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or age,” Spitzer told the Empire State gathering, according to AP.
MONTANA CASE TO BE APPEALED — Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund say they will appeal a federal judge’s decision from September that ruled a Montana Southern Baptist church violated state law when it backed a proposed constitutional marriage amendment without reporting its support to the state.
In 2004 Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in Helena, Mont., placed petitions for a proposed state constitutional marriage amendment in the church foyer, and its pastor, Berthold G. Stumberg III, encouraged support for it from the pulpit. The amendment passed that year by a margin of 66-34 percent.
In March of this year, Gordon Higgins, Montana’s commissioner of political practices, ruled that the church violated state law because it did not fill out paperwork reporting itself as an “incidental political committee.”
The lawsuit by ADF on behalf of the church seeks to overturn Montana’s election law as well as Higgins’ ruling, arguing that both violate the church’s religious freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. Montana’s law is one of the strictest in the country regarding church involvement in political issues.
In his Sept. 26 ruling, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, a nominee of President Clinton, ruled that the law was constitutional. ADF attorney Dale Schowengerdt criticized the ruling, which will be appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Churches should not be punished for speaking out on important social issues of the day,” Schowengerdt said in a news release. “After all, that’s a big part of what churches do. We are appealing the district court’s decision in this case because the Constitution should never be construed to require cumbersome reporting requirements in order to exercise First Amendment rights.”
Higgins’ predecessor began investigating the church after a homosexual activist group filed a complaint.
“Leftist special interest groups continue to insist on using campaign finance laws to silence churches and other groups on issues important to our society,” Schowengerdt said. “Montana’s campaign finance and practice laws put a very heavy price on any speech in support of a ballot issue like the marriage amendment. The laws clearly violate the First Amendment.”
In March ADF attorney Gary McCaleb told Baptist Press that in nearly every state churches can encourage support for proposed marriage amendments without running afoul of the law. That interview with McCaleb is available here: www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23071.
R.I. LESBIAN COUPLES ‘WEDS’ — The Rhode Island lesbian couple who won a “gay marriage” lawsuit in Massachusetts in September were “married” Oct. 8 in a ceremony at a park in Attleboro, Mass., AP reported. The “wedding” for Wendy Becker, 45, and Mary Norton, 46, was made possible after a Massachusetts state judge ruled Sept. 29 that “gay marriage” wasn’t prohibited in Rhode Island.
After the ruling, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, a Democrat, issued a statement saying that any such marriage licenses wouldn’t be recognized in his state.
Becker and Norton have a 3-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.
BRITISH COUPLE WON’T APPEAL — Two British lesbian women who lost a “gay marriage” lawsuit in July say they are not going to appeal due to a lack of finances, Bloomberg news service reported Oct. 11. The women were “married” in Canada and sought to have the license recognized back home.
But this summer British Judge Mark Potter ruled that there was a “long-standing definition and acceptance” that marriage is the union of one man and one woman aimed at the best interests of children. He also said that calling a homosexual relationship “marriage” would “fail to recognize physical reality.”
“We will continue to fight for equal marriage rights for ourselves and for other same-sex couples,” the couple said in an e-mail statement, Bloomberg reported. “As we cannot pursue a legal challenge, we will campaign in other ways instead.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.