Religious conservatives reacted sharply to a vote Friday night in the New York Senate to legalize gay marriage. The National Organization for Marriage pledged to spend $2 million to defeat four Republicans who voted for the bill. And religious right leaders warned that God would punish New York for passing the bill and accused Republicans of taking bribes in exchange for their vote.
New York’s Catholic bishops reacted by calling the vote a radical altering of of marriage.
“The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled,” the group wrote in a statement following the vote. “We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization. Our society must regain what it appears to have lost –- a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.”
The reaction of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes rights for same-sex couples and that had declared victory in New York just days before the vote, was much more pointed.
Maggie Gallagher, NOM’s chair, blamed Republicans for the passage of gay marriage.
“What does it mean that they passed gay marriage in N.Y.?” Gallagher asked in a blog post at the National Review. “Michael Long, the Conservative-party chairman, has vowed to withhold his endorsement. The National Organization for Marriage has committed $2 million to persuading Republicans: Voting for gay marriage has consequences. Sad that the N.Y. GOP has caved. Consequences to be continued.”
NOM sent out a plea asking for money to defeat four Republicans and two Democrats that voted for the marriage equality bill.
“[T]he Republican Party has sold out, and it is the Republican Party that will pay the worst price for this vote to redefine marriage,” wrote Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “In response to last night’s vote, I have doubled our pledge to New York, committing at least $2 million to make sure that New York Republicans understand that voting for gay marriage has consequences.”
On Facebook immediately after the vote, NOM went so far as to insinuate that New York Republicans had betrayed Jesus.
Other religious right organizations made similar claims. Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel warned that God would harm New York because of the vote.
“Gay ‘marriage’ mockery: ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.’ Gal 6:7. Dark days ahead for NY,” Barber wrote in one tweet. “Gay “marriage” silliness: Sad for NY. Sad for America. Yet not unexpected. We mock God & He obliges. Buckle in. Rough ride ahead,” he wrote in another.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, an organization that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, accused New York Republicans of taking bribes.
“Enormous political coercion has resulted in a profound failure of moral courage in the New York Senate. A clear majority of the people of New York oppose counterfeit ‘marriage,’ but Gov. Cuomo and anti-family lawmakers have shown that their allegiance is to a small but vocal minority seeking to redefine marriage and family,” he said in a statement. “The so-called religious protections that were tacked on to the bill will ultimately do nothing to protect the religious rights of New York citizens. As we go forward there is little doubt that the “incentives,” some taxpayer funded, used to sway votes, especially Republican ones, will be exposed.”
New York representatives of the Catholic church were not happy with the outcome. The Reverend Monsignor Kieran Harrington, a Catholic priest in Brooklyn, told the BBC that he thinks the new law is offensive.
“What we find repugnant is that this is being described as a civil rights issue,” he said. “African-Americans weren’t allowed to use the same fountains as white people. There were lynchings. The civil rights legislation was a reaction to this very real level of discrimination. If you say it’s a civil rights issue, then the state uses the coercive means at its disposal.”