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Same-Sex Marriage Proposal at CB3

by Dominic Pisciotta

On Tuesday, September 26, Community Board 3 (CB 3) will address the New York Court of Appeals’ decision from this past July, 2006. It left it up to the legislature to decide whether or not same-sex couples can be legally married in New York. A resolution calling on the state’s elected officials who represent CB 3 to support civil marriage for same-sex couples has been passed in committee and is now headed for a full board vote.

The resolution recognizes that there are many different types of families and cultures including those who have Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members residing in the CB 3 area—Lower East Side, East Village, and Chinatown. It asks for all of the state-level elected officials of the CB 3 area to sponsor the marriage equality legislation that has been introduced each of the last few years and will be again in 2007. It resolves that CB 3 supports the equal right to civil marriage for same-sex couples, urges its elected representatives and the governor to work toward passing the marriage equality legislation next year, and for all of the City’s community boards to create similar resolutions.

Marriage Equality advocates estimate that there are over 1,500 protections and responsibilities available to opposite sex New York couples through civil marriage, and are therefore not available to same-sex couples and their families. These protections often mean life and death since they include access to health insurance, joint adoption, medical decision making authority, inheritance, child custody, access to Family Court, pension benefits, public support programs, deportation protection for immigrant spouses, and immunity in court from having to testify against a spouse.

These desired benefits and protections lay within a civil framework and outside of a religious one, whereby same-sex headed families could receive civil protections just like everyone else and could be free to be joined in union by whatever religious body chooses to accept their sexual orientations and family structure. Every religion and government should work toward the hope that each family can be self-sufficient within strong civil institutions and given the freedom to pray without government intrusion. If our society can’t resolve that same-sex civil marriage betters the human condition and can coincide with religious freedom then we will not be able to grapple with this issue for a long time to come. New York’s and CB 3’s local officials have a chance to lead in 2007.

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