Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Time for a Real Women’s Agenda

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I’ve already written a great deal about the Reproductive Health Act (see here, here and here), which has been proposed by the Governor as part of his “Women’s Equality Act”.

One thing that has unfortunately been lost in the debate over this abortion expansion bill is that many of the other parts of the Governor’s agenda are things that most New Yorkers — including the Church — would like to support.  Things like ensuring equal pay for equal work; expanding the ability to enforce laws against sexual harassment; strengthening laws against discrimination in employment and lending (particularly against pregnant women); strengthening and enforcing current laws against sex trafficking.

But by including the Reproductive Health Act in in the bill, the passage of other good women’s initiatives is being unnecessarily jeopardized.  We would like to see abortion taken off the table, so that the welfare of women can be addressed and promoted in a way that generates real consensus across the state.

The Church, and other pro-life people who work at places like pregnancy services centers,  have a great deal of experience working with vulnerable women, especially those who are struggling with a crisis pregnancy.  Based on this experience, we could propose some other items to include in a real women’s agenda.  These proposals would not endanger the lives of unborn women and leave their mothers with the emotional scars of abortion.  Instead, they would enhance the welfare of the women of our state, particularly by giving encouragement and support to make the life-affirming decision to carry their babies to birth:

  • Promoting adoption by mandating parental leave equal to that provided to birth parents, and providing tax deductions or tax credits to those who adopt. A public relations campaign to encourage adoption, particularly of children with special needs and those in foster care, would also be good.
  • Providing funding for alternatives to abortion, particularly for low-income women.  For years, the government-funded Maternity & Early Childhood Foundation has been doing that on a shoestring, and the Governor’s proposed budget would eliminate all funding for this Foundation.
  • Ensuring that women have all the relevant information before making an abortion decision — bills like the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” or a bill requiring a sonogram — and a waiting period to ensure that there’s enough time to reflect.
  • Prohibiting abortion for sex selection.  This practice particularly targets female children, and is the ultimate form of discrimination against women.
  • Strengthening and enforcing New York’s anti-obscenity laws. Women are the primary victims of pornography — they are objectified and demeaned by it, and many of the women in porn are coerced or raped.
  • Helping victims of domestic violence, by giving them unpaid leave of absence from jobs, ending housing discrimination, and strengthen orders of protection.
  • Passing an unborn victims of violence act, which would permit prosecution of domestic violence criminals who target children in the womb.
  • The Governor has some good ideas for woman that shouldn’t be held back by an abortion bill that goes too far and is out of step with what New Yorkers want.  Taking the Reproductive Health Act off the table would allow people of all beliefs to unite behind a real agenda for women.

    The Reproductive Health Act and Criminal Law

    Thursday, February 7th, 2013

    As part of our efforts to educate people about the Reproductive Health Act, we have been pointing out that the bill would remove any criminal penalties for a violent attack on an unborn child.  The bill’s supporters have been countering by saying that there would still be sufficient criminal sanctions available, if RHA is passed.

    Here’s why they’re reading the law wrong.

    Current New York law criminalizes a direct attack on an unborn child outside of the context of a doctor performing an abortion with the mother’s consent.  If the unborn child is over 24 weeks of gestation, this crime would be a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; before that, it’s a felony punishable by up to four years in jail.

    Without these criminal abortion laws, there is no way to bring a prosecution for a direct attack on an unborn child.  The reason is that New York has a “born alive” rule, under which you can only be a victim of a crime — a “person” under the law — if you are born alive.  Before that, you aren’t a “person”.  Yes, it seems absurd, but that’s been the law for many years.

    If you want a more detailed legal explanation for how this plays out, here it is — if you don’t, you can skip the next paragraph.

    The basic problem stems from the nature of the assault and homicide statutes, and the required intent elements that must be proved, when taken together with the “born alive” rule.  The assault and homicide laws are “specific intent” laws — the prosecution must prove that the assailant had “intent to cause serious physical injury to another person”.  Since an unborn child is not a “person” within the meaning of the law, no assault that is intended to harm that child can be the basis of a prosecution.  Nor can the doctrine of “transferred intent” lead to a prosecution.  That principle holds that if a person intends to assault one victim, but harms another, they are liable for injuries to the second victim.  But the assault and homicide statutes specify that the injury must be caused to the intended victim “or to a third person”. Again, since an unborn child is not a “person”, the injury to the child cannot be the basis of a criminal charge under the theory of transferred intent.  Of course, there is always the possibility of bringing charges for any injuries caused to the mother — but those are separate and distinct from the offenses directed against the unborn child, which can only be brought under the criminal abortion statutes.

    The criminal abortion statutes are reasonable and necessary, and have a long history in our law.  By having this provision, New York law shows that it has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn life, which it will defend in criminal court.  This interest has been repeatedly recognized and upheld by the Supreme Court — even in the original Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion.

    These laws are especially important because deliberate attacks on an unborn child are frequently part of a domestic violence incident.  And, not every attack on the unborn child causes some kind of physical harm to the mother.  For example, an involuntary dose of RU-486 or emergency contraception might only cause harm to the unborn child, not to the mother, and thus could not be prosecuted at all if RHA is enacted.  Think of it — a man could slip a woman a dose of EC with the intent to kill their unborn child, yet he could completely escape prosecution.

    The result of all of this is clear — without the criminal abortion statutes (which would be repealed by RHA), an assault on an unborn child cannot be the basis of a criminal charge unless there is an independent injury to the mother.  And even then, the only victim whose rights would be defended would be the mother — the child would be merely a piece of evidence at trial, not a human being who had been victimized.

    The proper way to address this flaw in the current law is not to remove the abortion provisions from the Penal Law, as RHA would.  Instead, the Legislature should enact an Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would provide criminal penalties for assaults upon unborn children, regardless of the impact on the mother.  Thirty-six states and the federal government have these laws, and they have been upheld in the courts. The RHA may well prevent that law from ever being passed in New York State.

    The broader issue at stake here is the legal theory embodied in RHA — it treats the life and well-being of the unborn child as irrelevant, and asserts that the state is only concerned with maternal health.  This would completely abdicate the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn life — which has even been recognized by the Supreme Court.

    The RHA is focused solely on the mother and on ensuring her unlimited access to abortion.  The unborn child would have no legal rights, and no defense from assault, under RHA.

    Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Governor’s Radical Abortion Plan

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

    Now it appears that our pro-abortion Governor will be bundling the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” with a number of other “women’s initiatives”, to create an omnibus bill that offers something to everyone. Of course, most of the bill is mere window-dressing for his plan to remove all limits on abortion, and reinforce New York’s lamentable status as the state with the most expansive abortion laws.

    The New York State Catholic Conference has put out the Top Ten Reasons to oppose this radical bill.  here they are:

    10. It moves New York State in the opposite direction of “safe, legal and rare.”
    9.  It would undermine beneficial maternity and prenatal care programs, which could be deemed “discriminatory” for favoring childbirth over abortion.
    8.  It could be used to compel Catholic Charities and Catholic schools to counsel and refer for abortion.
    7.  It could be used to compel all hospitals, even Catholic hospitals, to allow abortions on premises.
    6.  It makes abortion immune to prudent regulations supported by large majorities of the public: parental notification for minors’ abortions, restrictions on taxpayer funding, informed consent or a waiting period for pregnant women.
    5.   By inserting a broad “health” exception into our law, it opens up third-trimester abortions for any reason at all, leading to more late-term abortions of viable, fully formed infants.
    4.   By repealing the requirement in current law that only a licensed physician may perform an abortion, it endangers women’s lives.
    3.   By tying the abortion expansion plan to helping victims of domestic violence and ending pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, these important objectives are held hostage to an illogical and ideological agenda.
    2.   It will not foster women’s health or dignity or promote women’s equality.
    1.   It defies common sense because New York is already the abortion capital of the nation, with 33% of pregnancies ending in abortion, over 40% in New York City.

    All the state-wide pro-life groups have joined in a new coalition to defeat the bill.  We’ve taken the name “New Yorkers for Life”, and have started up a Facebook page and Twitter account.  We would like to use these as rally points for pro-lifers, to express their opposition to the bill and to get more information.  Please spread the word to everyone you know, encourage people to “Like” the page on Facebook, and share it with their friends and contacts, and to “Follow” it on Twitter.

    The New York State Catholic Conference has put up an alert on the bill.  Please let others know about this, and urge them to contact their legislators and the Governor.

    We already have too many abortions in New York.  Enough is enough.

    How Many Abortions are Enough for Governor Cuomo?

    Saturday, January 12th, 2013

    111,212

    77,327

    41%

    Those are, in order: the number of abortions that took place in 2010 in New York State, abortions specifically in New York City, and the percentage of pregnancies in the City that end in abortion.  Stated in such bald terms, they are appalling, and each one of them represents a tragedy to mothers, fathers, and the unborn children.

    We want the number to be zero, of course, but you would think that even for a “pro-choice” politician with any sense of balance and sanity, those numbers would be too high.

    Apparently not for for our ideologically committed and politically ambitious Governor Andrew Cuomo.    He appears to be fine with even more abortions.

    In his State of the State speech last week, the Governor literally shouted his support for a woman’s “right to choose”, and called for the passage of a bill named the “Reproductive Health Act”.  The better name for the bill is the “Unlimited Abortion Act”, because it would remove any limitations on abortion, and prevent any further limitations.

    This bill has nothing whatsoever to do with reproductive health.  It is an extremist bill that would:

  • Establish the destruction of unborn human beings as a “fundamental right”;
  • Make it impossible to pass common-sense regulations, like parental notification laws;
  • Permit non-doctors to perform abortions;
  • Undermine or eliminate the conscience protections in law that protect religious liberties, under the guise of eliminating “discrimination” against the newly-recognized “fundamental right”;
  • Require Church-owned hospitals, social service agencies, and schools to promote, perform, or refer for abortions;
  • Force our schools to help pregnant girls to get an abortion, or risk being sued for “discrimination”;
  • Endanger the licenses of doctors, nurses, and other professionals if they don’t promote, perform or refer for abortions.
  • People need to let their elected officials know that we don’t want any more abortions in New York.  There are too many already.  An easy way to contact your representatives is through the New York State Catholic Conference’s Catholic Action Network.

    Pro-abortion politicians used to posture that they wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare”.  But our Governor doesn’t even pretend to care any longer about how rare abortion should be.  He doesn’t seem to want any limits on it — even laws that have been proven in other states to reduce the number of abortions and that are supported by wide majorities.

    How many abortions are enough for our extremist pro-abortion Governor?   To even have to ask such a question is the essence of the modern tragedy of the Culture of Death.

    The Next Steps on the Mandate

    Monday, July 23rd, 2012

    The deadline for the implementation of the HHS contraception/abortion mandate is now upon us. As of August 1, religious organizations will have to compromise their consciences and comply, or apply to the government for an extension or exemption, or risk the penalties of non-compliance.

    This deadline will probably have little direct and immediate impact on ordinary Catholics who already have health insurance from Medicare or a private employer. But for the Church, any danger of being forced to compromise with sin will do incalculable damage.  A number of Catholic institutions and dioceses are challenging the mandate in court, but those cases won’t be decided for quite some time.

    In the meantime, here are some suggestions about what people can do at this point:

    Prayer — This is, of course, our ultimate weapon. We need to pray for our nation; for our elected and appointed officials, for a conversion of heart; for our judges, for wisdom in applying the law to these cases; for those who will be affected by this mandate, that they will have the wisdom and courage to resist as best they can.  For some suggestions about prayer activities, see our webpage about the Fortnight for Freedom.

    Advocate — There are significant legislative initiatives that would overturn the HHS mandate and protect our freedom of religion. First and foremost are the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. These bills stand on their own, but they are also being attached to appropriations bills that are pending in the House of Representatives. if your Congressional representative is on the Appropriations Committee, please contact and urge them to keep conscience protection in the funding bill.

    Support our Bishops — During this bruising political season, our bishops have been taking a beating in the media. They need our support and help, and it would lift their spirits if they heard from faithful Catholics, in support of their efforts to defend the freedom of the Church.

    There is an old saying, often mis-attributed to Edmund Burke, but which is true regardless of who said it: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

    Don’t lose hope!  Throughout history, the Lord has stood by us in our hour of need, and assured us, as He did to Gideon, “I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).  Let us pray with confidence to Our Lady, Help of Christians, for the strength and constancy we need.

    The Power of the Truth

    Friday, May 4th, 2012

    On April 30, I attended the public meeting of the Westchester Board of Legislators, to present the statement of the Archdiocese in opposition of the “clinic access” bill that would unfairly restrict the free speech rights of pro-life witnesses outside of abortion clinics.

    That statement reads as follows:

    A bill is now pending before the Westchester Board of Legislators, which will violate the Constitutional rights of those who give pro-life witness outside abortion clinics.

    We urgently call upon all members of the Board to oppose this unjust bill.

    This bill is premised upon the false assumption that there is a significant problem with disorder outside of abortion clinics. Actually, law-abiding citizens give peaceful and prayerful pro-life witness on a regular basis, offering valuable information to women approaching the clinics without violating any of the currently-existing federal and state laws regarding access to abortion clinics. Despite such a clear record of respect for the law, this legislation is designed to prevent pro-life advocates from speaking freely merely because their speech is considered unwelcome by some powerful interest groups that favor and profit from abortion.

    This legislation is fundamentally unfair to ordinary citizens who wish to express their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. It is vague and ambiguous so that ordinary people could not possibly know what kinds of behavior or speech are prohibited.  Ultimately, it is unfair to women who have a right to information before they make their decision
    as to whether or not to have an abortion.

    This legislation does a disservice to these women, to their unborn children, and to society as a whole, and should therefore be rejected.

    I have been present at many legislative hearings, and I generally have low expectations.  We have to bear in mind that most legislative hearings are not like court proceedings — it’s not like arguing to a neutral jury or a judge who’s open to hearing both sides.  The legislators have largely made up their minds already.  But in some cases, hearings are a good place for the public airing of reasons for and against legislation, and some legislators may actually listen to what is being said.  Some of them are looking for a reason to take a position on a bill, and the hearing may give them that hook to hang their hat on.  I have been to several hearings where there was good interaction between legislators and witnesses.  Not many, but a few.

    In a way, it’s not so much what is said by the witnesses, but their presence and witness — so that the hearing becomes an indicator to the legislators of the depth of feeling about bills and a gauge of the political mood of the populace.

    In that light, the hearing was fairly typical of what I’ve experienced.  The public witness of so many pro-lifers was a good sign — it sent a message to our allies on the Board that they have a lot of support, and hopefully gave some of the wavering members some reason to lean our way.  Having so many “regular people” on our side — as opposed to the largely institutional witnesses on the other side (e.g., employees and activists from Planned Parenthood) — was a very good thing.  I think that the legislators are more impressed when lots of people testify who don’t make a living out of the issue at hand.  Five voters count for a lot more than one “spokesman”.

    The most powerful testimony was given by a young African-American woman, who spoke of her own abortions, and how she has come to regret them.  She has now dedicated herself to going to abortion clinics, and giving sidewalk counseling to other women contemplating abortion, to make sure that they understand that they have a choice.

    But there were so many others, who stood outside on long lines in the cold, awaiting an opportunity to come into the legislative chamber.  The hearing went on until after midnight, and many stayed until the wee hours to present their own testimony.

    The struggle against this bill is not over.  A final vote will be taken on May 7.  We are hoping that the County Executive will veto the bill, and that there will be enough votes on the Board to sustain the veto.  Residents of Westchester should contact their legislators — even if they’ve done so already, they should do it again, and again, and again.  To find the name of your legislator, go here.  Email and other contact information can be found here. The most effective advocacy comes from sustained contact between constituents and their legislators over a long period of time — visits, calls, emails, etc.

    So often, we feel powerless in the face of the large, powerful and rich forces that are arrayed against us.

    But the power of the truth, and the witness of those who are willing to testify to it with love, can never be underestimated.

    Another Threat to Freedom

    Friday, April 27th, 2012

    On April 30, the Westchester County Board of Legislators will vote on a “Clinic Access Bill”.  This kind of legislation is a persistent feature of pro-abortion advocacy.  It is designed to chill the free speech and assembly rights of pro-lifers who pray and witness outside of abortion clinics.  Since the pro-abortion forces can’t bear the possibility that women might choose against abortion, they aim to silence us by passing vague laws that are designed to intimidate pro-lifers into silence out of fear of arbitrary prosecution and punitive lawsuits.

    The Archdiocese issued a strong statement against this bill last fall.  Many pro-lifers and lovers of freedom will attend the Board hearing on Monday, to urge the legislators not to give in to the well-funded pressure from the abortion industry.  I will attend too, and deliver the following remarks.  Please pray for us.

    My name is Edward Mechmann. I am the Assistant Director of the Family Life/Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York, and a resident of Westchester County.  I submit this statement in opposition to the proposed legislation concerning access to so-called “reproductive health care facilities”.

    First, the proposed changes to the law are unnecessary.  There is no evidence that there is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed by this bill.  According to statistics provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there has been only one arrest in the entire state since 2000 for violations of the State clinic access law, and no criminal convictions. There is no need to strengthen laws that are never used, since there is no problem that needs to be addressed.

    The second reason for our opposition to this bill is that  it is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.  It is a established principle of constitutional law that any attempted regulation of speech be content-neutral, and narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.  This is particularly true when the speech occurs on a public sidewalk, which has been described by the Supreme Court as a “public forum” where citizens generally have a First Amendment right to speak and gather together.  This bill fails to satisfy this standard, and creates a significant risk that people would be prosecuted or sued for the mere exercise of their right to free speech and assembly.

    This bill is not neutral, because it specifically targets the conduct and speech of those who oppose abortion.  It is also vague and ambiguous, so that persons could not possibly know what kinds of behavior or speech are prohibited.  One of the provisions would make it a crime to “interfere” with the operations of “reproductive health care facilities”.  Yet that term is undefined and utterly subjective in meaning, and would thus chill the free speech and assembly rights of those who wish to speak to women seeking to enter those facilities.

    Another provision of the bill would create a protected zone that includes “any public parking lot” within 200 feet of the clinic, as long as it “serves” the clinic. These terms are undefined and hopelessly ambiguous.  For example, what does it mean for a parking lot to “serve” a clinic, and how can that be determined?  There is no test clearly defined in the statute.  The result will inevitably be arbitrary and selective enforcement, and the chilling of free speech and assembly rights.

    This unnecessary bill is clearly aimed at suppressing the rights of those who oppose abortion, because that speech is disfavored by the owners and operators of abortion businesses.  This discriminatory legislation dishonors the constitutional rights of pro-life citizens, and robs women of an opportunity to hear the truth about abortion.

    It should be rejected.

    Another Attempt to Silence Pro-Lifers

    Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

    A bill is pending before the Westchester County Board of Legislators that is designed to silence pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics.  It is similar to the bill that was passed by New York City a few years ago, about which I wrote here and here.  The bill hasn’t yet been voted on, but it remains a significant risk.

    Here is the statement that I submitted to the Board, at its hearing last night:

    I submit this statement in opposition to the proposed legislation concerning access to so-called “reproductive health care facilities”.

    First, the proposed changes to the law are unnecessary.  There is no evidence that there is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed by this bill.  According to statistics provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there has been only one arrest in the entire state since 2000 for violations of the State clinic access law, and no criminal convictions. There is no need to strengthen laws that are never used, since there is no problem that needs to be addressed.

    The second reason for our opposition to this bill is that  it is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.  It is a established principle of constitutional law that any attempted regulation of speech be content-neutral, and narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.  This is particularly true when the speech occurs on a public sidewalk, which has been described by the Supreme Court as a “public forum” where citizens generally have a First Amendment right to speak and gather together.  This bill fails to satisfy this standard, and creates a significant risk that people would be prosecuted or sued for the mere exercise of their right to free speech and assembly.

    This bill is not neutral, because it specifically targets the conduct and speech of those who oppose abortion.  It is also vague and ambiguous, so that persons could not possibly know what kinds of behavior or speech are prohibited.  One of the provisions would make it a crime to “interfere” with the operations of “reproductive health care facilities”.  Yet that term is undefined and utterly subjective in meaning, and would thus chill the free speech rights of those who wish to speak to women seeking to enter those facilities.

    Even if one were to ignore the lack of any history of problems at these facilities and assume that there was a “compelling state interest” here, this bill cannot be fairly described as “narrowly tailored”.  The bill would create a zone that goes far beyond any statute that has been approved by the courts.  No law has included such areas as public parking lots and bus stops that are within 200 feet of a facility, and created a large “bubble zone” around the “spaces” — whatever that term means — between those locations and the facility.  There can be no justification for such a broad zone where the free speech rights of citizens will be restricted.

    This unnecessary bill is clearly aimed at suppressing speech, because that speech is disfavored by the owners and operators of abortion clinics.  This discriminatory legislation should be rejected.

    Varia

    Saturday, July 16th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Must read of the week:  Americans United for Life’s exhaustive report on Planned Parenthood.   The Executive Summary provides the basic narrative, the full report has all the details.
  • Stats on late-term abortions in the UK show that it is being used in a eugenic way, to eliminate disabled persons.
  • More proof that human life as a disposable commodity — women in the UK, pregnant due to IVF, are having abortions because they’ve changed their minds.
  • The madness of sex selection continues in India, with baby girls being subjected to sex change operations.
  • Scholar Brad Wilcox punctures the bubble of those who think that “open marriages” are a great idea.  Why would we ever want to go back to the ’70’s?
  • Yet our narcissistic culture, having learned nothing, now brings us the inevitable lawsuit seeking to legalize polygamy.  If same-sex “marriage” is inevitable, then why not anything else?
  • An Illinois court stops the state from terminating Catholic Charities adoption and foster care services due to the civil unions law.
  • Here’s some background on the series of lies that led to the passage of the Illinois civil unions bill, particularly the lies about how it would affect religious institutions.  And every major public official in that state is a Catholic.
  • Lessons learned about the secularization of Catholic universities, thanks to the NLRB ruling that Manhattan College is no longer a church-operated institution.  A lesson worth bearing in mind as more and more Catholic institutions and schools come under the leadership of lay boards with little or no connection to the Church.  It’s all about Catholic identity and mission.
  • Beautiful story of the current record-holder for the world’s most premature baby (21 weeks, 5 days, 1.01 pounds).
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Why Not “Civil Unions”?

    Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

    As the debate over same-sex “marriage” heats up in New York, you occasionally hear legislators say that they oppose same-sex “marriage” but are in favor of “civil unions”.  This is an effort to appear reasonable, and open to compromise, which is certainly laudable.  The problem us, the term “civil unions” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

    When most people use the term “civil unions”, they mean some kind of legal arrangement that grants rights to same-sex couples, like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, insurance eligibility, etc., without putting that relationship on the same legal plane as marriage.

    The problem is, that’s not what the term “civil unions” actually means.  It means the same thing as same-sex “marriage”.

    Bills that recognize “civil unions” grant them all the same rights and privileges of marriage.  The “civil unions” bill that was passed in New Jersey, for example, specifically states that any provision of law that deals with marriage, spouses, etc., must be read to include “civil unions” and those who enter into them.  The “civil unions” bill introduced in Rhode Island today does exactly the same thing. The legal difference between “marriage” and “civil unions” is absolutely nothing — it’s just the name.

    So, all the statutes that prohibit discrimination based on “marital status” would have to be read to prohibit discrimination against those in “civil unions”.  In fact, the case that led to the New Jersey Methodist organization being stripped of its tax exempt status wasn’t based on their refusal to recognize a “marriage”, but their refusal to recognize a “civil union” — which the courts treated as the same thing as a marriage.

    It’s also well known that same-sex “marriage” advocates have used “civil unions” laws as a step towards the judicial imposition of same-sex “marriage” .  The argument they make is that granting the rights of marriage, but denying the term “marriage”, is invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause (or its state equivalent).  That was precisely the approach that was successfully used in Connecticut to impose same-sex “marriage” by judicial fiat.  That same argument is being made in court in New Jersey.

    The reality also is that “civil unions” are not on the table in the New York State Legislature.  To my knowledge, a “civil unions” bill has never been introduced in the Legislature, and nobody has said that they are interested in doing so.  Indeed, same-sex “marriage” advocates frequently say that they don’t want “civil unions”.

    The choice in the Legislature is not “civil unions” versus same-sex “marriage”.  It’s all about re-defining marriage.