A group of local religious leaders blasted New York State lawmakers for the passage two weeks ago of the marriage equality law and urged fellow clergy not to receive the politicians in their houses of worship.
Members of the Long Island Hispanic Pastoral Association (LIHPA) aired their gripes with gay marriage Tuesday during a news conference at LIHPA headquarters in Freeport.
Rev. Carlos L. Vargas, founding president of LIHPA and a pastor at the Freeport Bible Center, called the legislation, “the greatest assault to families in the history of New York” while speaking to a crowd of around 30.
Vargas took issue not only with lawmakers who voted to pass the law, but also state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who voted against the law along with all eight other state senators from LI, because he allowed the bill to come up for a vote June 24.
“We are greatly disappointed with Senator Skelos and Republicans,” Vargas said. “We thought Republicans represented whole values and family values and we have learned that this is not true.”
The bill passed the state Senate after four Republican senators from upstate New York voted for it.
Skelos committed last year that he would be in favor of the issue coming to the floor for a vote, according to his spokesman, Scott Reif.
“We did negotiate religious protections in the bill so that organizations [that] were opposed did not have to perform same-sex marriages,” he said.
Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker whose district encompasses Freeport, broke rank with her fellow Democrats and voted against the legislation.
Of the 21 Assembly members on LI, all 13 Republicans voted against the bill and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Bridgehampton) joined five local Democratic Assembly members in voting for it.
Vargas also expressed displeasure with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is credited with being the driving force behind the law’s ultimate passage.
“Cuomo is tearing apart family, nation and state, and at times when people are dealing with the loss of homes and high taxes, to rack the Senate for two months just to pass something against New York is disturbing,” he said.
A spokesman for Cuomo did not return a call for comment.
One local gay advocate called Vargas’ arguments “juvenile.”
“Over 60 percent of New Yorkers believe in fairness and equality and for the vast majority, this issue was just as important as any other,” said David Kilmnick, CEO of the Long Island GLBT Services Network. “To present such empty arguments that promote discrimination is the disturbing thing in this issue.”