Editorial: Close to home

We know gay people. They are not strangers to us. They are part of life on the North Fork — but even making such as comment is ridiculous. People are people. They’re all over the place.

The idea that the state should deny any of our friends, neighbors, co-workers or relatives the legal protections of marriage is as abhorrent as any form of prejudice against anybody. We are all created equal. We all deserve equal rights. A government that singles out any group for discrimination is a dangerous government.

Demagogues, as well as reasonable politicians and good citizens, have opposed gay marriage on moral and religious grounds. Homosexuality is a sin, or at least unnatural, they say, and the law should not legitimize it. Nature created homosexuality, not some demon working down in hell. It is part of life.

For some, it may have been less about morality than politics and keeping the support of social conservatives. How ironic it is that the people who claim to believe so vehemently in freedom and private rights are the first to shout who should be allowed to do what in their private lives.

The federal and state constitutions forbid legislation that restricts religious freedom; it follows that neither level of government should legislate on the basis of religious, rather than legal, principles.

Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo, promised in his campaign to oppose same-sex marriage. But according to The New York Times, he told his colleagues on the evening of Friday’s dramatic New York Senate vote that he had been wrong.

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, clearly addressing constituents who had agreed with his original position on same-sex marriage, but “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife,” he said.

What a courageous and decent man.

Each of Long Island’s nine Senators voted in opposition to the bill. Of the North Fork’s representatives in Albany, Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) both voted against the bill, which passed the Assembly last week and which Gov. Mario Cuomo signed into law soon after the Senate’s approval Friday.

“How does it feel?” Gov. Cuomo asked one upstate Republican who also had changed his mind and voted for the bill. “Feels good, doesn’t it?”

How do our legislators feel? Neither of the men who represent the North Fork and Shelter Island in Albany issued a public statement after their votes, as historic and important as they were.