The Daily Freeman posted a story Saturday quoting our area senators about their support of the label “civil union” over “marriage” in the fight for equality.
Sent our way by resident activist, Jay Blotcher, he poses the following: The Republican senators of the Mid-Hudson Valley make it clear they vote according to their religious beliefs. That’s why they opposed same-sex marriage. But they were not voted in to uphold the Bible; they were elected to uphold the Constitution. Why not call them and remind them of that fact?” What do you think? Join in the discussion by commenting below and on the Daily Freeman’s already fired up website.
Both senators oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York and voted it against it when the matter came up in their chamber last month. The Senate rejected the same-sex marriage bill just hours after the Assembly approved it on Dec. 2.
The five state senators who represent the Mid-Hudson Valley — Bonacic, Larkin, Stephen Saland, James Seward and Vincent Leibell — voted “no.” All are Republicans.
Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, said during a recent telephone interview that terms used to define marriage are “deep rooted in every religion in the country and in the world.”
“Point No. 2, he said, “is the arguments of justice and equity and fairness. Many of (those) can be accomplished through civil unions.”
Larkin, R-Cornwall, also speaking by phone recently, said his position has not changed since the bill was introduced in May 2009.
“I believe if they would put civil unions on the calendar, it would pass,” he said.
Larkin said his conviction that marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman comes from “my religious background, my upbringing, and I just feel that strong about it.”
“We, as a family, have friends who are gay and lesbians, they’ve been to our house for dinner, we’ve been to theirs, but it is my belief,” he said of opposing same-sex marriage. “You have to be honest with yourself. You can’t shift and say, ‘I have friends now, and I have to change.’ I think you just have to be honest, and I am.”
Bonacic said proposals that would create civil unions in New York and provide the couples the same protections afforded to married couples would “pass overwhelmingly” in the state Legislature.
“The act of marriage between a man and a woman is defined in federal statute. Gay marriage is not,” he said. “But we can define civil unions in statute that would remedy many of the inequities” cited by those who advocate for same-sex couples’ rights.
Bonacic said the issue, “for some reason, seems to be an all-or-nothing concept,” making it difficult to settle on a compromise.
“At this point in time, I reflect the sentiment of my constituents. and I can tell you it’s been about 3-2 that they don’t want it,” he said of legalizing gay marriage. “So I try to reflect on what the majority of my constituents are telling me.”
Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, said last month that the debate “very definitely boils down, on both sides of the equation, to the word ‘marriage.’”
“Civil unions afford a degree of rights and protections that are not otherwise available to same-sex couples,” Saland said. He noted, though, that “a number of advocates have pointed out that, however, does not equate to marriage.”
Seward, R-Milford, also believes there would be widespread support in Albany for civil unions.
“Certainly I fully recognize that people of the same sex do fall in love, have committed relationships, consider themselves a family, and that should be recognized in the law through a civil union or some other form of knocking down any legal barriers to that,” Seward said in December.
Leibell, R-Carmel, could not be reached for comment.