ALBANY, New York, JUNE 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Today a New York Christian organization rallied hundreds outside the state's senate to protest a same-sex marriage bill currently under discussion by lawmakers.
The rally is part of a "40 Days for Marriage" campaign that stretches from May 12, the day that the state assembly passed the bill, till June 22, the end of the legislative session. The initiative was organized by the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a lobbying group founded by Christian pastors in 1982.
Though the bill has already passed the assembly, it must now pass the senate and then be signed by the governor in order to become a law.
The organization launched the initiative to try to halt this process and show support for a traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. It marked a high point today in its "Stand 4 Marriage" rally at the state capitol.
The lobby group is also encouraging three other components in the campaign: pray for your state senator, ask friends to contact the senate and share their views on the matter, and donate $40 for the marriage effort.
In a statement released June 1, the New York Catholic bishops also issued a call for people to stand against the bill.
The statement on the bishops' conference Web site affirmed, "As pastors of citizens from every corner of our great state, we stand unified in our strong opposition to such a drastic measure" that would "radically change the timeless institution of marriage."
It continued: "Throughout history, different cultures have had different customs regarding marriage. But the one constant has been the conviction that marriage is the union of a man and a woman in an enduring bond, ordered for the procreation and stable rearing of children.
"Regrettably, the state assembly has voted to redefine what nature and our common heritage long ago defined for us."
"We fervently pray that members of the state senate will stand firm in opposition to this ill-advised legislation, and we call on Catholics and all New Yorkers to contact their senators to make their voices heard," the bishops stated.
Governor David Paterson is expected to sign the bill if it passes the legislative houses, though a recent turn of events may delay this process.
On Monday, control of the senate changed to the Republican party as two Democrats joined the other side, making a 32-30 split of the senate.
Generally, the same-sex marriage bill has been supported by the Democratic legislators, which include the majority of the state assembly and the governor.
The bill needs 32 votes from the 62 senators in order to pass. On June 5, the news channel NY1 reported that the bill was supported by 20 Democratic senators, with 29 -- including 23 Republicans and six Democrats -- opposing it. Nine were undecided and four declined to state their stance.
The bishops' statement noted, "Our opposition to this bill is based not only on Catholic teaching regarding human sexuality and the Sacrament of Marriage. Just as importantly, it is based on reason, sound public policy, and plain common sense."
It added: "The state has a compelling legal interest in promoting marriage between men and women in order to create stable families and provide for the safety, health and well being of children.
"The state has no such compelling legal interest in recognizing a relationship between two people of the same sex.
"If there are injustices against those in relationships other than marriage, those injustices can certainly be reformed and corrected in a way other than by drastically redefining marriage."