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Letter: Bill Will Not Infringe on Religious Liberty (Buffalo News)

To the Editor:

As a civil liberties organization, we are dedicated to protecting freedom of religion for all New Yorkers. Some critics claim the bill that would legalize marriages for lesbian and gay New Yorkers would also infringe on religious liberty—May 6 Another Voice, “State law must allow for conscientious objectors.”

This is simply not true. The bill is both deliberate and careful in ensuring that no religious community would be forced to solemnize a same-sex marriage. Furthermore, existing laws already allow New Yorkers to distance themselves from these ceremonies. A wedding singer, for instance, could defend himself if pressed to provide his services to a lesbian or gay couple.

Using religious objection to inspire fear is a hurtful distraction. Commitment services have been performed for years across the state and there’s been no rash of florists or caterers complaining about the extra business. New Yorkers deserve an honest and compassionate debate about this issue.

Hiding behind phony claims of threatened religious liberty gets us nowhere.

John Curr,
Director, Western Regional Office of the New York Civil Liberties Union

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