New York State has the honor of being one of the original thirteen colonies that rebelled against the English Crown and formed a representative democracy. Our forefathers risked life and property so as not to be slaves. Their consent was demanded if they were to be governed. Consequently, we respect the right of the majority to govern precisely because the rights and protections of the minority are enshrined in our formative legislative texts. The democratic process is entirely dependent upon dialogue which at times leads to compromise; however, one always marked by cooperation and respect for the views of others.
The passage of the same-sex marriage legislation in the State of New York belies the fact that, at least here in New York, the state of our democracy is weak, at best. First there was a lack of true debate on the momentous decision to re-define marriage in New York State. There were no legislative hearings and all sides of the issue were not presented to the legislators for their consideration. Secondly, the whole process was marked by back-room politics. Not that politics are always transparent; however, the closed-door political dealings, the threats and the promises which forced many legislators to vote against their own consciences, is certainly not something worthy of our state. Thirdly, the clear influence of special interest groups which bought the process, at least as reported in the major news media, is truly disheartening. The large contribution of Wall Street hedge fund contributions seems to have had a major effect on the voting patterns of our legislators. Fourthly, the fact that the passage of this legislation took place on the last day of the legislative session, and truly at the eleventh hour, before the Senate closed for recess is truly an example of the sorry state of affairs in New York State. The debate was cut off, legislators were locked in their chamber and the general state of pressure and panic consumed the process.
For years our city’s major newspapers decried the corruption of our political process. King David asked the almighty “if the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” For too long Catholics and all New Yorkers have stood idly by as our legislature grew increasingly corrupt. We must commit ourselves to be educated about the process and demand it be changed. I truly believe in the democratic process and am proud to be an American. However, I must confess that I am rather ashamed to be a New Yorker after the spectacle that the same-sex marriage passage revealed.
The foundation of society
Marriage is the foundation of civil society. Fundamentally, it is the stable union between man and woman where new life is brought into the world and learns how to become good citizens of our society. While we as Christians recognize that marriage is also for the mutual consolation of husband; the interest of the state in marriage has little to do with love and affection but is entirely about new life that is brought into the world in an environment which will facilitate their becoming productive members of the state.
Have any of our families been spared the pain of divorce? Are we all just a little diminished by the coarsening of human sexuality that manifests itself in casual sex and by the pervasiveness of cohabitation? If we were to put aside the question of rights for a moment can we ponder aloud if our children deserve more then what we are offering? These are the questions that merited a debate. Unfortunately, we are lacking statesmen willing to engage in open honest dialogue. They prefer the night!
The democratic process brings individuals to the unknown junctures always necessitating dialogue, and sometimes compromise in order to bring about justice which is the characteristic of a democratic society.
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.