Democrat Spitzer pairs gay marriage, religious freedom as “‘core values’
ALBANY, N.Y. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat running for governor of New York, recently paired gay marriage and protection of religion as part of “core values” in a civil rights campaign he said should draw people together, rather than divide them.
“New York state needs to pursue a vision of civil rights that accounts for every person’s desire to make the most of their potential, that accounts for the need to remove barriers people face because of trace, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or age,” Spitzer told the annual meeting of the Empire State Pride Agenda on Oct. 5.
The gay rights lobbying group has endorsed Spitzer’s campaign for governor against Republican-Conservative John Faso. Faso’s opposition to gay marriage is one of the stark differences in the campaigns for governor.
“We should make gay marriage legal in New York state,” Spitzer planned to tell the New York City crowd, according to a test of his speech. “No New Yorker should be deprived of the right to marry the person of their choice, regardless of gender. This is not about forcing any religion to perform or recognize gay marriage. It’s simply about permitting gay and lesbian couples the right to live in stable, long-term married relationships.”
Faso, a Roman Catholic, said he would veto a gay marriage bill should it be passed by the Legislature.
“I supported the nondiscrimination bill,” Faso said in last week’s debate, referring to a bill that protects gay New Yorkers’ employment and property rights. “I also believe, however, that gay marriage is contrary to the beliefs of many millions of New Yorkers,” he said at the Cornell University debate.
Faso spokeswoman Susan Del Percio said the candidate was open to the idea of civil unions, rather than gay marriage.
Spitzer, who is 50 percentage points ahead of Faso in the polls, said support for gay marriage is part of his plan to strengthen employment rights of people with strong religious beliefs, a right he said is often neglected.
“We must protect the rights of people of faith and their institutions,” Spitzer said. “As attorney general, I brought several lawsuits against employers who refused to hire or promote religious employees. If I’m elected next month, I will make sure the government does not infringe on religious choice and practice. This too is a sacred civil right part of the pantheon of values that define and protects all civil rights.”
“We must base our public policy upon the basic idea that unifies every movement for civil rights the fundamental principle that the dignity of every person should be respected,” Spitzer said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.