John Burger came to the Register in 2001 as a staff writer after working as a reporter for Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., and a master’s degree in English from Iowa State University and has taught in China and France.
There are almost 30,000 viewers watching the live stream of the New York State Senate right now. This may be the last day of a long legislative session before lawmakers break for the summer.
It’s also the feast of St. John the Baptist, a few days after the longest day of the year. But it’s already dark, and it looks like the Senate is finally going to vote on the same-sex “marriage” bill ... in the dark of night.
Yes, it appears the Senate is opting to vote “under cover of darkness.” But no, that’s not really the case, is it, not in this Internet age, when the session is being streamed live on the Senate’s own website and folks like the National Organization for Marriage are tweeting updates from Albany.
But there’s another kind of darkness, apparently. As recently as today, the National Organization for Marriage was still calling attention to the fact that no one really knows what’s in the revised bill, which apparently has religious exemptions. It’s a fundamentally different bill, NOM’s executive director, Brian Brown, said to me yesterday when we caught up in New York. The citizens of New York should be able to see what their legislators are voting on.
We might echo Nancy Pelosi here, when she said of landmark healthcare legislation that Congress passed a year and a half ago: “We have to pass the bill before we can know what’s in the bill.”
For Brown, the issue goes even beyond that: the people of New York should decide this matter through a referendum rather than the legislature. Though New York doesn’t have directi initiative referenda, he said it’s possible to hold an “advisory referendum” or a constitutional amendment. He insists that same-sex “marriage” advocates, though they claim the measure has strong public backing, are afraid of any method that would allow citizens to decide directly.
“This is an issue that’s so fundamental and basic and visceral that the people should be able to decide,” Brown said.
But it appears that that will not happen. Legislators will vote tonight, and tomorrow we’ll find out what’s in the bill.