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Somers Residents Give Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage

SOMERS, N.Y. - As the debate about legalizing same-sex marriage continues in Albany, The Daily Somers asked for some local opinions.

Mark Koppel of Somers, who legally married his partner, Barry Brandes, in Danbury, Conn. last year, said he “didn’t realize what an emotional experience it would be. Just to hear, ‘I pronounce you legally married,’ -- there’s something really moving about it.”

Koppel and Brandes have been together for nearly 40 years. They said that whether New York State recognizes same sex marriage is not as necessary for them as for others.

“But our Pledge of Allegiance provides ‘liberty and justice for all,’” he said at a recent Somers Town Board meeting. “Gay people are not getting justice in this state if they are not allowed the same rights as other people.”

On June 16, Senator Greg Ball (R-C, Patterson), who represents New York State's 40th District, released a statement expressing his own position. “The bill, as it stands now, is an affront to religious organizations and would open up a new era of lawsuits against individuals and religious organizations.” He expressed concern about government funding, tax exempt status and said the bill contains ambiguous language.

Koppel feels that the Catholic Church is the main opponent to same-sex marriage legalization. "But if the law passes, it doesn’t mean you can force the Church to marry you if they don’t want to," he said. "It means you can get legally married by someone who is authorized and willing to perform the service.”

Msgr. James Moore of Somers’ St. Joseph’s Catholic Church said he felt that Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s blog on the New York Archdiocese website states the church’s position clearly.

“The Church affirms the basic human rights of gay men and women, and the state has rightly changed many laws to offer these men and women hospital visitation rights, bereavement leave, death benefits, insurance benefits, and the like," the Archbishop wrote. "This is not about denying rights. It is about upholding a truth about the human condition.  Marriage is not simply a mechanism for delivering benefits:  It is the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children."

“The church has felt this way for 2000 years,” said Msgr. Moore. “It would be wrong for the state to come in and redefine something as basic as marriage.” He added, “We ask the people, please don’t vote to change that.”

However, Mark Koppel said he feels that “the bill before the legislature doesn’t hurt anybody. It doesn’t hurt marriage. It only helps people."

The same-sex marriage bill has already been passed in the New York State Assembly but awaits just one more vote in the New York State Senate . Last week, Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga) became the 31st Senator to give his support to the bill, which needs 32 votes to pass in the Senate.

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