Edward T. Mechmann is a lawyer who deals with public-policy issues for the Archdiocese of New York as assistant director of its Family Life/Respect Life Office. An excerpt from his interview with Kathryn Lopez:
LOPEZ: Did it surprise you that one of the Democrats who switched yesterday, Carl Kruger, announced, “What we’re about to do is redefine what the American family is. And that’s a good thing”?
MECHMANN: Legislative humility is not exactly a widely practiced virtue in New York, so it didn’t surprise me that a one of our state senators would consider himself qualified to redefine the basic structure of society. What did surprise me was that he was candid enough to say it aloud.
LOPEZ: Does a small percentage of men marrying (to use the term advocates use) men and women marrying women really pose a threat to the American family? Why can’t they do their thing and we do ours, and we all get along? You can argue natural law, but if it doesn’t feel natural to them, who’s to say?
MECHMANN: To be clear, we are talking about redefining marriage to satisfy a very tiny percentage of society — only three to four percent of the population defines themselves as gay or lesbian, and the Massachusetts experience suggests that only a small percentage of them will even get “married.”
New York long ago decriminalized homosexual conduct, so gays and lesbians are perfectly free to do whatever they want. That’s not what this debate is really about. It’s about forcing society, and everyone in it, to recognize the moral equivalence of heterosexual and homosexual acts. And I do mean “force,” by using all the powers of the state and local governments.
The problem also is that if you redefine marriage, you’re changing a public, not private, institution. The effect of the redefinition of marriage will reach far beyond the parties to the “marriage.” For example, this bill would change the meaning of countless laws that ban discrimination on the basis of marital status. Those laws touch areas like eligibility for government contracts, employment decisions, tax-exempt status, and eligibility for professional or business licenses. We have no idea how the bill might affect religious organizations and individuals who oppose the redefinition of marriage. And the governor and legislature aren’t even talking about this.