Church, State, and Gay Marriage

By Matt Markham

June 15, 2011 Updated Jun 16, 2011 at 9:29 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) Same sex unions in New York State could very soon be legal. It depends on whether a vote will take place in the State Senate tomorrow. But, several local clergymen and women have already announced their support for the gay marriage bill.

"It's part of who they are," said Rev. Dr. Arthur Suggs from the First Congregational Church in Binghamton. "The way they they were made. In the image of God."

That's not a comment everyone would hear from a man or woman of the Church talking about same-sex marriage. But some local religious leaders are supporting state legislation for marriage equality.

"The Church of all places, all people, ought to be completely inclusive, and welcoming...radical hospitality," said Rev. Sue Davis from the First United Methodist Church of Endicott. "Treating people as the worthy beings they are, created by God."

That, they say, is the point. Access to marriage is a fundamental right and say evidence for it is in Scripture.

"It's rooted in a theology that is very open-minded about its interpretation of the Bible," Rev. Suggs said. "Jesus summarized that love is the end-all of the entire Bible, the law and the prophets."

That is, not everything in the book can be taken literally.

"Much of Scripture is metaphorical and symbolic, and we always need to read Scripture within the context that it was written," Rev. Davis said.

The Roman Catholic Church neither performs nor accepts same sex marriages or civil unions for that matter. The Catechism of the Church says that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' Other churches say the Roman Catholic Church needs to move ahead with the times.

"The Church seems to be lagging way behind society which, unfortunately, the Church does," Rev. Davis said.

But the goal in joining publicly to support landmark legislation is an effort to change that.

"Here's another segment of the population that will just be considered a part of humanity, and won't be discriminated in one way or another," Rev. Suggs said.

A vote could make it to the floor of the Legislature by Friday.

A vote would depend on how many Republican state senators would support a gay marriage bill. Democrats are fairly united for it.

The legislation already passed in the State Assembly.

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