Golden: Who are lawmakers to change the law about gay marriage

DiSanto’s ‘Golden’ moment against Sen. Marty
Photo by Tom Callan

State Sen. Marty Golden is proud to be on the wrong side of history.

Golden (R–Bay Ridge) was the only Brooklyn state senator to vote against same-sex marriage late on June 24 — yet at his first public appearance hours after the historic civil rights vote, the Catholic cop-turned–politician remained adamant that barring gays from entering into the same marriage contracts as non-gay couples is the right thing to do.

“My faith guided me, as it has throughout my political career, in deciding what is right and what is wrong, and as such, I couldn’t and didn’t vote to legalize same sex marriage,” Golden told Knights of Columbus members before a pre-Fourth of July parade along 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights on Saturday — just hours after the Senate passed the controversial marriage equality bill with a slim 33–29 vote. Gov. Cuomo signed the legislation minutes later.

“We must continue to oppose this challenge to our faith and this destruction of the sacrament of marriage,” Golden added.

His comments on Saturday echoed a statement that he put out on Friday night to voice his opposition to the biggest civil rights vote in his political career.

“An issue of this magnitude should have been given to the people of this great state to decide, not 62 men and women,” he said in a statement that called for a public, California-style referendum on same-sex marriage.

Golden clarified the point on Saturday: “If the people of this state decide to redefine an institution which is older and more sacred than our own democracy, then so be it. But the state Senate should not have been the ones to do it. For us to think that we have the authority to redefine a Holy Sacrament, based on the pressure of well funded special interests, is a manipulation of that which we were sent here to do.”

His Brooklyn colleagues disagreed.

“It’s rare that we have an opportunity to vote on something with as personal and immediate an impact on our constituents as marriage equality,” state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) said. “On Friday night, we lived up to the values on which New York and this country were founded … and we set an example that I hope the rest of the country quickly follows.”

Even state Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Brighton Beach) — who voted against the bill in 2009, but was outed as a homosexual in a recent FBI probe — voted for the measure, claiming that legalizing same-sex marriage was “the reaffirmation of what a family is.”

Golden’s vote was expected, as was his disgust with the entire issue. Earlier this year, Golden had said that his constituents “don’t give a rat’s ass” about gay marriage.

The comment prompted more than 100 gay marriage supporters to protest outside of Golden’s Fifth Avenue office.

Golden isn’t the only Brooklyn legislator opposed to oppose gay marriage. Before the Senate took up the bill, the measure passed the Assembly with an 80-63 vote — but without the help of Assemblymembers Peter Abbate (D–Dyker Heights), Inez Barron (D–Canarsie), Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park).

New York now joins Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and Washington, D.C. in legally recognizing gay marriage. After the law takes effect in 30 days, same-sex couples can get married and begin receiving the same state benefits that heterosexual couples do.

Gays won’t receive any federal benefits, however, since same sex marriages aren’t recognized nationwide, a result of the Clinton-era “Defense of Marriage Act.”