Dear New York State Senator James Alesi of the 55th District,

As constituents of yours, we the members of the Campus Times Editorial Board at the University of Rochester urge you to support the same-sex marriage bill that Governor David Paterson has fervently pushed to bring to a vote and has placed on the schedule for next week’s special sessions.

The issue at hand is one of equality. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry is to dismiss the validity of their love, to deny them the legal rights and economic security that come with marriage and to withhold from them the emotional satisfaction often achieved through marriage.

Most of the arguments against gay marriage are rooted in religious beliefs, contending that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is a traditional and sacred institution between a man and a woman. While all people are entitled to their own beliefs, religion should have no effect on the passing of a law. The separation of church and state is one of the fundamental ideas expressed in the Constitution, and its implications debunk any religious argument against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Most other arguments against same-sex marriage that children should be raised in a home consisting of a mother and a father, that same-sex marriage sends bad moral messages or that it hurts the heterosexual institution of marriage stem from underlying fears and prejudices not unlike those against interracial marriage from half a century ago.

Reportedly, you disagree with Paterson’s urgent push to send the same-sex marriage bill to a vote because you believe there are more pressing matters at hand. But when would be a better time? There will always be other issues to discuss, but this is no excuse to repeatedly push aside a bill whose success has the potential to change the lives of an entire community of Americans presently without equal rights under law.

It is time that our government steps up and recognizes the importance of equality under law for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. As such, it is our hope that you will consider the harm that denying a person the right to marry can cause, understand the existing urgency of the matter and proudly vote in favor of the same-sex marriage bill in the Senate’s special sessions next week.

The University of Rochester Campus Times Editorial Board

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