A brave stand for gay marriage

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On July 4, 993, Saint Ulrich of Augsburg was canonized. Well, that too, but perhaps slightly better known is the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress in 1776. Yesterday America celebrated the anniversary of her self-rule, recalling her struggle for liberty.

A great irony and pity, then, to read this story in the weekend’s New York Times. On June 24, New York became the latest American state to legalize same-sex marriage, to the joy of proponents of individual liberty everywhere. As supporters clinked champagne flutes outside the Stonewall Inn, though, the four Republicans who voted for the bill doubtless brooded on their political futures. The NYT article ponders the same, describing staunch conservatives’ vows that the four will never be re-elected. Michael R. Long, chairman of the Conservative Party, says that none of the men will receive the party’s endorsement. The National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage pressure group, claims it will spend $2 million in an effort to defeat the legislators at the next election.

That’s fine. Mr. Long and his party are under no obligation to support senators who take positions with which they disagree. The NOM may campaign against people it considers unfit for office. But how horribly dispiriting it is that there is still such fervent opposition to gay rights in America. Senator Roy J. McDonald, one of the Republicans who voted for the bill, responded to a reporter’s question with, “Well, f--- it, I don’t care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing”. Senator Steven M. Saland justified his “aye” vote in similar terms, saying, “I must define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality”.

This, I think, is the heart of the matter. A Catholic priest should not be forced to marry a gay couple, but nor should Catholicism, or any other personal belief or doctrine, be used to bar that couple from marrying. Good on New York, fingers crossed for the rest of the Union.