Catholic NY state senators face gay marriage vote

In an article in the regional section of today’s New York Times, Michael Barbaro examines four members of a group of New York State Senator’s who have come to be known as the “Undecided Eight.”

They are “undecided” about how they will vote this week on the legalization of gay marriage. Their eight votes will determine the outcome.

Three of the four senators profiled in this piece are Italian Catholics. One of them is Staten Island’s Andrew Lanza, who shares a story about an exchange that he had with his priest. The striking account of their conversation not only shows Lanza using his primacy of conscience, but also overcoming his own internalized clericalism:

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Mr. Lanza, who is Roman Catholic and voted against same-sex marriage in 2009, found himself on the phone recently with a priest he has known for three decades. The priest was adamant. Redefining marriage, he told Mr. Lanza, “would cause more harm than good for everyone involved,” he recalled.

Mr. Lanza objected, politely but pointedly. “My faith is an important part of my life and always has been,” he recalled telling the priest. “But nowhere can I find there being anything in my faith that is inconsistent with people being able to pursue their true selves.”

It was the first time he can recall sparring with a priest, and the experience seemed to have left him slightly rattled.


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