ELMSFORD, NY - Elmsford resident Casey Arciola wants to put on a fancy dress and toast to her cousin's marriage. But that won't happen unless same-sex legislation is passed in New York State.
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.
The legislation might hinge on two key votes from senators in Westchester and the Hudson Valley. Governor Andrew Cuomo, an open supporter of the legislation, formally introduced the bill in the Assembly and Senate last week.
"It's a basic human right as far as I'm concerned," said Arciola. "It's a matter of equality. There are people I love who don't have the same rights as me and I think that's wrong. People have been gay my whole life, even if I didn't know it. This is just a no-brainer."
But several religious institutions have long been outspoken on this issue, as their faith teaches that a marriage is a bond between man and woman.
However, Sister Danielle Marie Baran, principal of Greenburgh's Maria Regina High School , said that regardless of sexual orientation, Roman Catholicism imparts that people should be judged solely based on their values, not their decisions.
"The core of who a person is, is unique and special," said Baran. "What their orientation is does not make them greater or less than. Jesus Christ never found anyone, no matter what choice they made, better or less than anyone else."
While Baran, does not advocate same-sex marriage because a homosexual couple cannot create life, she said she respects any couple's decision to get married.
In 2009, same-sex marriage legislation was defeated by the New York State Senate, but it has passed numerous times in the Assembly. If approved, New York would become the sixth state to issue same-sex marriage licenses. They are currently recognized in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Oregon.
A vote on the measure is expected this week. Governor Cuomo said that he supports same-sex marriages, and is expected to sign the bill if passed.
Whether or not the bill passes, Arciola said she considers this a revolutionary time for the LGBTQ community.
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