Gay Marriage | New York | News

NY Senator Lanza Seeks Broader Religious Exemptions in Marriage Equality Bill, Calls it 'Line in the Sand'


After a meeting with Governor Cuomo attended by Senators Lanza, Hannon, and Saland this evening, Hannon and Saland left without saying anything to press. Senator Andrew Lanza held a short gaggle and told press that broader religious exemptions is a "line in the sand" for his vote, according to reporters on the scene.

Capitol Confidential has more:

“We wouldn’t want to create a situation where people’s religious beliefs are threatened or challenged by something we do here,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island. “There’s no middle ground, we want to get it right…If you get it wrong, you expose our religious organizations to litigation, and we shouldn’t do that.”

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Just what f'n protections do they still think they need? Christ, do they just not understand the fact that they already cannot be forced into marrying any couple they don't agree with? They are protected beyond what is necessary to begin with.

    Posted by: LiamB | Jun 16, 2011 8:29:30 PM

  2. I wish someone would write an intelligent article on this. Specifically what protections do these Republicans want? Do they want any individual or business to be able to discriminate against gay couples? Or, do they simply want religious officials, congregations, places of worship, etc. to be able to discriminate?

    Posted by: Dan | Jun 16, 2011 8:31:36 PM

  3. Not a single reporter, NOT ONE, can just ask him what exactly they are asking for and how it differs from what is already protected and prohibited due to existing equality laws??

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 16, 2011 8:38:28 PM

  4. It's already in there that religious institutions are exempt. This bill affects only civil marriage. So I don't think I'm alone in saying FU senator Lanza. If you won't vote we'll find someone else who will

    Posted by: letthemeatcake | Jun 16, 2011 8:39:08 PM

  5. I think an intelligent article needs intelligent information. I doubt they have released what they are seeking. I wish they would though, but they themselves may not really know -- or are embarrassed to put it out in a statement. I believe there are already religious protections, and this argument is really a fallacy, there is no religious protections anti-gay enough to get their Yes vote.

    Posted by: Richie | Jun 16, 2011 8:39:27 PM

  6. @Dan: Specifically, they want religious organizations to never have to do anything they don't want regarding gay marriages. So, if an org adopts out children with government funding, they want to protect that org from losing the funding if they refuse to adopt to gay couples. That is a HUGE problem. Also, they seem to want these protections to apply to individuals in the public sphere, which is an even HUGER problem. I just don't see any leeway here...they'd basically be creating marriages that aren't real marriages.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 16, 2011 8:39:40 PM

  7. I saw screw it. Have them vote, let it fail, and take all of these a-holes out in the next election. The Republicans should hope it passes. I doubt they want this debate going on for the next year and into election season. Every poll shows New Yorkers support marriage equality by a large margin. If they don't respect the opinions of their constituents, let them explain it during their election campaigns. However, we need to put up viable candidates against them.

    Posted by: Jon B | Jun 16, 2011 8:41:34 PM

  8. @Jon B: They won't let it get to a vote without some sort of compromise on this, I can guarantee you that.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 16, 2011 8:47:19 PM

  9. Again, I state, legislators are legislating on their religious beliefs vice the law of the land, know as the Constitution where, in their oath, they swore to "support and defend" and "bear true faith and allegiance". They are letting religious organizations control our laws and rights. We are on the threshold of a Theocracy.

    Posted by: CB | Jun 16, 2011 8:52:29 PM

  10. This is an excellent HuffPo article on the religious aspects of marriage equality that addresses the problem with using religion on only one side of this debate:

    Senator Ball made it very clear. He wants exemptions for any person of faith who is against same sex marriage to be able to discriminate against same sex couples. It is not acceptable based on race or religion and it should not be OK based on sexual orientation.

    Ball, Lanza, and I'm sure Saland and the rest, never had any intention of voting for equality, but they love the attention it's getting them.

    Posted by: Tim | Jun 16, 2011 8:52:41 PM

  11. Here's an idea...

    Avoid litigation by not passing unconstitutional laws in the first place.

    When I read this guy's comments the other day, my impression was that they are trying to garner a special exemption for bigots whose function space might be used for gay celebrations; they could object (discriminate) without fear of law suit.

    Free to be, bigoted me... kind of thing.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Jun 16, 2011 8:54:29 PM

  12. Here's an option: put the language in that he wants. Get his vote and the other 1 or 2 that would come along. Put a separability clause in it and let the courts decide. Or repeal that language at the soonest juncture.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 16, 2011 8:58:30 PM

  13. Interesting article on Saland's importance:

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 16, 2011 9:01:40 PM

  14. Please just let it pass. Whatever comprise must be made to get it done. This will be a MAJOR victory. Take the prejudicial parts out through litigation, but get it done now! The oportunity is NOW. Do it.

    Posted by: Leto | Jun 16, 2011 9:01:46 PM

  15. Those of you who are supporting giving into these ridiculous demands are clearly forgetting who you're dealing with. First of all, it's not a given that they would vote for it even if we sell our souls. Secondly, marriage is basically null and void if ANYONE can discriminate against it based on their personal beliefs and thirdly, and most importantly, if we take the "compromise" and pass this bill and then sue, we will fall into the trap that is being set and we will become the next billboard claiming that even when we get what we want we still sue to attack good Christians and force them to support something their religion forbids. RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. We should refuse the demand and take our chances. If they vote it down, we take them down in the next election.

    These assholes have spent the last day and a half desperately trying to find a way to either kill the bill or neuter it before passing it. It looks like the scumbags have succeeded AS THEY ALWAYS DO.

    I said earlier today that I didn't have nearly as much faith that this was going to happen as most people seem to. How quickly do we forget Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jun 16, 2011 9:17:59 PM

  16. Pandering to people like this is a waste of time. Senator Lanza from the lily white and deeply conservative Staten Island is not going to vote for same-sex marraige, this is just a delaying tactic.
    So much for voting for Republicans.

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Jun 16, 2011 9:21:32 PM

  17. "Sir, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States - not the other way around."

    I can't remember who said this, but it was during one of these stupid outbursts from the religious right. What a beautiful way to put it.

    Posted by: Craig | Jun 16, 2011 9:25:39 PM

  18. The guy is a dick. He wants to be carte blanche to folks to discriminate. F them! Vote their asses out of office!

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 16, 2011 9:36:37 PM

  19. No, we do not sell ourselves short just to see this bill pass. We do not put ourselves in a bad situation for these bigoted Republicans. That is exactly what they want. They want us to grovel and kiss their feet, do everything they wish and command. This is exactly what happened in Maryland all over again, legislators putting personality morality over legality, demanding concessions, but not really ever considering voting for marriage equality.

    We can't continue to expect these social conservatives (Dem and Rep) to pull through for us. Time and time again they haven't, or have said they would but left us out in the cold when the chips were down. We obviously need to see NY have marriage equality, but we shouldn't compromise on our self-respect to make it happen.

    So, with that said, now we move on to Hannon, Saland and any other potential senators we can flip to a yes vote. Ball and Lanza should be seen as NO votes at this point, and unless they show impetus that they are willing to vote yes, we shouldn't waste our time selling our message to those who aren't listening.

    Posted by: Francis | Jun 16, 2011 9:36:37 PM

  20. What's next an exemption that allows religious institutions to burn gays at the stake. What D-bags these guys are!

    Posted by: Jon in Rochester, NY | Jun 16, 2011 9:45:00 PM

  21. @Francis: Forget Hannon & Saland. Hannon has already called himself a "no" vote and is likely just along as a consultant. Saland, as you can see in the NY Times article I posted above, is actually the lawyer who is seeing this vulnerability of religious institutions and is driving the conversation from the technical legal area. These guys are approaching as a bloc and demanding a is no up to our side (i.e. Cuomo) to decide whether or not their demands are doable.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jun 16, 2011 9:46:24 PM

  22. Lanza’s position is internally inconsistent, and it makes a mockery of all discrimination laws. According to the TU quote: :We wouldn’t want to create a situation where people’s religious beliefs are threatened or challenged by something we do here,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island. “There’s no middle ground, we want to get it right…If you get it wrong, you expose our religious organizations to litigation, and we shouldn’t do that.”

    As far as religious ORGANIZATIONS go, the SSM bill specifically exempts them from any coverage; they can deny services, facilities, etc.

    As far as “people’s religious beliefs”, the discrimination laws do NOT allow “people’s religious beliefs” to justify discrimination in providing commercial goods or services. A taxi driver cannot refuse to drive an inter-racial couple (or their guests) to their wedding because “racial mixing” is against his religious views; a motel owner cannot refuse to rent rooms to guests attending the wedding of an inter-faith couple because she thinks that “marrying outside the faith” is against her religious views. It should be no different for same-sex marriages — individuals and businesses that offer commercial services should not be allowed to refuse those services in connection with same-sex marriages based on their religious beliefs. If you allow this, then you open a loophole in the discrimination laws that makes those laws meaningless. Is Lanza really going to allow the taxi driver to refuse to drive guests to a same-sex marriage, or allow the motel owner to refuse to rent rooms to guests attending a same-sex marriage? Pathetic!

    ON THE OTHER HAND, IF Lanza is really saying that INDIVIDUALS who work for RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS that refuse services should not be found personally liable when they refuse — as part of the RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION’s refusal — to provide those services, well that’s fine (employees of the Knights of Columbus or of the local church which are allowed to deny facilities and services for same-sex marriage). If you’re going to exempt these religious organizations, then you need to protect their employees. BUT THE “RELIGIOUS BELIEF’ EXEMPTION CANNOT APPLY TO INDIVIDUALS WHO OWN OR WORK FOR COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS THAT WANT TO DISCRIMiNATE.

    Lanza needs to ‘man up’ to the fact that he simply doesn’t support marriage equality. He’s dissembling, and using the ‘religious exemption’ as an excuse. History will treat him poorly if he really follows through with his “line in the sand”. And Skelos will be running the Senate minority after the next election if he doesn’t let this come up for a vote

    Posted by: MiddleoftheRoader | Jun 16, 2011 9:47:03 PM

  23. Screw you and your constant moving of the goalposts, jack hole.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Jun 16, 2011 10:01:03 PM

  24. I think my sense is that the republicans on the fence including Senator Lanza are scared and need to educate themselves about what the anti-discrimination laws in NY are and how it relates to marriage for gay couples. It happened with the democrats in 2009 and they got thru it (except Diaz). We are just asking for a marriage license, that's it. NY recognizes out-of-state marriages and according to a recent report by the Williams Institute there are an estimated 9,000 same-sex married couples living in NY (according to the 2010 census) and I haven't seen or heard of claims or violations of religious liberties that these senators are raising enough to change the human rights laws. And, any adoption agency including Catholic Charities cannot discriminate in NY based on sexual orientation whether married or not. Maybe, they just need the governor to hold their hands while they vote the right way--meaning yes.

    Posted by: Tony | Jun 16, 2011 10:11:48 PM

  25. @Bruno

    Thanks for the NYT link. Hopefully, Saland is just trying to flesh out the existing religious protections in the current, that the employees of religious organizations and such cannot be subject to a lawsuit. If Saland is asking for more, then there is no room for negotiation. Cuomo and marriage equality advocates would be better served by using the marriage equality issue to help recapture the NY State Senate in 2012.

    I'm continually baffled by the GOP in NY on marriage equality. 2012 is a presidential election year, NY is very blue and the turnout will be higher. The Senate districts will be redrawn, and if I'm not mistaken Upstate will lose seats and Downstate will gain seats. Maintaining the slim majority in the senate will be difficult enough. Does the GOP really want to have to defend their position on marriage equality in 2012?

    And I don't believe stalling the bill in the Senate is really an option. I mean they could refuse to bring the bill to the vote, but to what gain? It's clear to everyone in NY and the country that the GOP are the ones holding up passage. They can't hide behind Democratic defections like 2009. Failure to pass marriage equality, whether in a vote or by refusing to bring the bill for a vote will rest squarely on the GOP's shoulders.

    I suspect the bill will pass, barely and with fleshed out religious protection amendments. If not, the GOP can, in all likelihood, kiss their majority good-bye and they will see either 2009 or the 2011 bill in 2013, and they will have no way to prevent its passage.

    Posted by: searunner | Jun 16, 2011 10:19:38 PM

  26. 1 2 3 »

Post a comment


« «Dan Choi Rips Up 'Obama for America' Pamphlet, Throws it at Volunteer at Netroots Nation Panel: VIDEO« «