When Timothy Dolan arrived in New York nearly three years ago to take over the state’s Catholic Archdiocese, his “brother bishops” had a bleak warning to deliver.
“We’ve got a bruising battle coming up over same-sex marriage,” he remembers being told in his first meeting with local clergy.
“We are not going to relent, we are going to give it everything we’ve got. But you need to know that the fortune-tellers are telling us that we ain’t gonna win.”
The Roman Catholic Church had long been at the forefront of the fight over defining marriage in the Empire State, and the issue was reaching a boiling point. Two years earlier, religious groups had successfully lobbied the New York Legislature to defeat a bill that would have expanded the legal definition of marriage to accommodate same-sex couples. But by the spring of 2009, gay-rights advocates had regrouped, and the momentum was beginning to shift in their favor.
“They are much better-oiled,” Archbishop Dolan’s fellow bishops told him. “They’ve got the media on their side, they’ve got politicians raring to go and they have turned this into a chic civil rights issue that is going to be very difficult to defang.”
That prophecy was fulfilled on June 24, 2011, when the New York State Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a narrow 32-29 margin.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly signed it into law, proudly calling his state “a beacon for social justice” as he basked in the glow of a political victory that his office had, to a large extent, orchestrated. Throngs of celebrators flooded the city’s streets, gay-rights leaders throughout the country pledged renewed commitment to their cause, and the New York Daily News splashed a single, screaming word across its front page to commemorate the occasion: “HISTORY!”
Even though he had been bracing for it, the law’s passage came as a blow to Archbishop Dolan, one of the nation’s most prominent and persistent voices in the cause for traditional marriage. Commonly referred to as “the American Pope,” Archbishop Dolan not only leads the New York Archdiocese, but he also serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More than any other religious leader in the country, Archbishop Dolan has been the public face of the conservative social values his church espouses — and according to New York lawmakers, he had just lost the argument in his own state.
Source: Deseret News | McKay Coppins