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Chappaqua Clergy Support Same-Sex Marriage

State Lawmakers are just one vote away from passing a same-sex marriage bill in New York.

The legislation could hinge on two key votes by Senators from Westchester and the Hudson Valley

State Senator Greg Ball (R-C, Patterson), whose district includes Peekskill,  Yorktown, Somers, Mount Kisco and Bedford announced Wednesday that he does not support the bill as it's currently written. "We have some real  issues, still, with the language, particularly the religious protections that I would like to see.  We got a small percentage of them, but not all of them. If this passes, we're gonna see problems like we've seen in other states, where Catholic adoption agencies and other related organizations are forced to shut down. That would be a real problem," said Ball.

The Senator said he "made it clear to Governor Cuomo" that he would be an "absolute no vote," unless there are proper religious exceptions, including the Catholic Church.  "We can push forward an issue without it being a compete affront on those who have strongly-held religious beliefs," said Ball. State Assemblyman Steven Saland (R-Poughkeepsie), who is considered to be another  swing vote, has stated that he is "undecided" about the measure.

Despite public perception, local clergymen in northern Westchester support the upcoming same-sex marriage bill.

“As far as I am concerned, this is more a civil rights issue than a religious matter,” said Reverend Steve Phillips of United Methodist Church in Pleasantville. “I often hear people say that “the Bible insists that a marriage is between one man and one woman.” Frankly, I cannot find where it says this. As I read the sacred texts, they are primarily concerned with restorative justice, compassion, love and equanimity. Sexuality, homosexual or otherwise, hardly rises to the level of a minor concern in relation to these themes.”

Same-sex marriage legislation was defeated in the New York State Senate in 2009.  It has passed in the Assembly numerous times. If approved, New York would become the sixth state in the nation to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Gay marriages are currently recognized in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Iowa, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Oregon.

“In my career as a priest I have had several hours of pre-marital counseling with heterosexual couples,” said Reverend Dr. Joel Clark Mason, Rector at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Chappaqua. “The work in those sessions is to determine if a sacred bond exists between these two individuals that will make them one. If that bond exists between two human beings then all that is needed to complete the sacrament of marriage is a ceremony proclaiming it in the presence of God and witnesses. That sacrament is not dependent upon sexual organs - it is dependent upon an abiding love between two individuals.”

One of the most outspoken critics of same-sex marriage has been New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.  In a recent blog posting, Dolan commented, "Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America-not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values and natural law. There, communiques from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies and what the very definition of 'family' and 'marriage' means."A vote on the measure is expected either Thursday or Friday. Governor Cuomo has said he supports same-sex marriages, and is expected to sign the bill, if it's passed.

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