Bishop Terry R. LaValley has directed priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg to read a statement this weekend denouncing Friday night's passage by the state of same-sex marriage.
The bishop said passage of the bill "to alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage is deeply disappointing and troubling." He said he worries that "both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government."
Acknowledging a culture that's become increasingly tolerant — and supportive — of gay marriage, the bishop said he realizes "that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed."
"While the Catholic Church clearly teaches that we always treat our homosexual sisters and brothers with respect, dignity, and love, we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of children and the spouses themselves," he wrote. "This definition cannot change."
He called heterosexual marriage "authentic."
The bishop's statement — and his edict that priests read it aloud to parishioners Saturday and today — underscores the divisiveness of the issue. While the bishop expressed his disappointment with Friday's development, others — including Sauliss D. Martinez, Clayton — said they felt overjoyed.
"For the first time in a long time, I feel accepted by everybody," the 24-year-old said. "I freaked out. I started crying. It was a very emotional time for me."
A Queens native, Mr. Martinez's family moved to Northern New York when he was 5. He has been dating another man for about six years.
"We want to get married. We love each other. We're glad we can actually do it in New York," he said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Todd Moe, morning show host of North Country Public Radio, who is married to his partner of 17 years, Paul Siskind, a college professor.
"This now validates us as a family in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the state," Mr. Moe said.
He recalled the tension surrounding the last-minute vote.
"We were sitting on the edge of our chairs here in the family room watching the live coverage tonight," he said early Saturday. "I wish my parents were still here to witness this."
The couple married in Canada six years ago and held a reception in Norwood. Mr. Moe remembered his mother's reaction to the outpouring of support the couple received.
"She was really touched to see so many people who care about us sharing in our joy," he said. "I was thinking about my parents tonight. I wish they were still here to witness it and see it."
Still, with the threat of legal battles looming and gay marriage illegal in the vast majority of states, there's more work to be done to attain marriage equality, he said.
"It's a step in the right direction," Mr. Moe said. "It's a start."
For Mr. Martinez, who said he "used to get called names, get hit" because he is gay, the vote represents a turning point.
"I'll be looked at as an equal, as I always have been," he said. "I just want the respect that everybody deserves."