Gay Catholic Group Hails New York State Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

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Local and national DignityUSA groups call on New York City officials to let ruling stand and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Leaders of DignityUSA, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Catholic group, applauded the February 4 New York State court decision which declared that denying same-sex couples the right to civil marriage violates the state Constitution.  They also called on New York City officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not to appeal the ruling and to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in thirty days, as directed in the decision.

Jeff Stone, a spokesman for Dignity/New York, said: “This is a tremendous step forward toward the goal of full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in New York City and New York State.  In her decision, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan has eloquently expressed what the right to marry is all about for same-sex couples.  It is certainly not about destroying heterosexual marriage, as so many of our political and religious leaders have inaccurately claimed.  Justice Ling-Cohan has correctly recognized that the current marriage laws in our city and state perpetuate a two-class society, with gay people being deemed to be less equal than others.”

In her decision, Justice Ling-Cohan wrote, "Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing."  She concluded that, "marriage is viewed by society as the utmost expression of a couple's commitment and love; plaintiffs may now seek this ultimate expression through a civil marriage."

Stone noted that Dignity/New York supports same-sex couples through its weekly masses and other activities, and refers them to Catholic clergy willing to witness same-sex unions.  “We will continue to do this,” Stone said, “and in fact we have recently decided to increase our support and make it more widely known.”  The weddings of two Dignity/New York couples were the subjects of a feature film, an Irish television documentary, and widespread media attention. 

Sam Sinnett, president of the national organization DignityUSA, also praised the ruling.  He stated:  “We have been working for many years in DignityUSA and our local Dignity chapters for the right to civil marriage.  We believe that as Americans who fulfill our obligations in every way as citizens, we are entitled to the fundamental human right to marry a partner of our choosing.  This wonderful court decision in New York State will help to advance the cause of full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people across the nation.”

Sinnett continued:  “As Catholics, we also believe that our love has a divine source, that it is sacramental in nature, and that it should be celebrated as such by our Church.  Along with many others, we are working to spread the news that there are millions of GLBT people of faith who believe that their sexuality and their relationships are a gift from God.  But we also believe in the separation of church and state, and that religious views must not be used to deny gay people their fundamental civil rights as American citizens.”

Sinnett noted that DignityUSA also provides support to same-sex couples through its registry of Holy Unions (the only such national registry for same-sex Catholic couples), by providing union and wedding rituals to couples and chapters, through public advocacy, and by advancing theological reflection on same-sex marriage. 

DignityUSA is the nation's foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the country. DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and Society.

Dignity/New York has served GLBT Catholics and their supporters in the New York City metropolitan area since 1972.  It sponsors a weekly liturgy and social open to all, every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. at St. John's in the Village Episcopal Church, 218 West 11 Street in Manhattan.