Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush has told a constituent he opposes same-sex marriage because it "would further weaken the traditional family values that are essential to our society."
The Black River Republican told Potsdam resident Ben Davis that a poll conducted during his campaign suggests the majority of his constituents agree with the assemblyman.
"Over 70 percent are not in favor of same-sex legislation," wrote Blankenbush.
In an interview last week, Blankenbush said he would be "open minded" enough to look at legislation that would increase rights amongst committed same-sex couples, but made no commitment of support.
He told Davis: "The sanctity of marriage should only be shared between a man and a woman. I believe that certain legal rights should be afforded to same-sex couples. However, I am not in favor of same-sex marriage."
Here is the letter. Scroll down to read my May 2 interview with the assemblyman on the issue:
Blankenbush on gay marriage
Blankenbush: If it's up to the governor and the Assembly, it will certainly come up. Again, right along my stance hasn't changed. I'm not in favor of same sex marriage. I support the traditional marriage. I believe that the constituents in the 122nd district, the majority of the voters and taxpayers in my district do not favor same-sex marriage. That's been my stance right along.
Seymour: In your estimation, is there something that should be done for same-sex couples to extend them the same rights or some of the same rights as married couples?
Well, you know, with - I believe there's a lot of laws on the books right now so you don't discriminate against anyone from either race or sex or sexual preference. To me, those rights are there but the traditional marriage is what I support. In in fact there are some bills that come down that further extend some of the benefits for same-sex couples, I would certainly look at them. I'm not close minded to take a look and make sure that everyone is treated equally. When you talk about marriage itself, marriage is between one man and one woman. And that's the way I believe and that's the way I'll vote. But as you just said right now, the Assembly has I believe enough votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill. It's the Senate that we're not sure of right now how that would go.
I understand that you would have to look at specific bills. But I was just wondering what your ideology is. Is it right, is it appropriate for same-sex couples to have the same rights as married couples if they want to be "married"?
Well, again, I guess you'd have to give me some examples of what you mean. Again, I'm open minded enough to look and make sure that everyone is treated fairly. I wouldn't have a problem with just sitting down and looking at it and trying to make a fair decision. But again, it would have to be bills and so forth worded whereas it wouldn't compromise with a traditional marriage.
Let me rephrase. And I'm sorry to keep picking on this point. If we were to call it something other than marriage - say "civil unions" - and this bill would establish for a way for same-sex couples to get married and not call it marriage and to extend them all the same benefits that married couples receive - death benefits, rights to children, etc. Would you that be something that you were in favor of?
Well, yeah I would certainly - right now, for example, you're talking about rights and benefits on life insurance. That's already there. So some of those things are already in law that would allow couples to do that. I would be willing to take a look at civil unions, take a look at what you mean by that as long as it doesn't have anything attached to it like a traditional marriage. I believe there should be some benefits on people when they want to live, buy their own home, when they want to have all the tax breaks of homeownership. Of course, when someone is in the hospital and you have the availability to go in as a partner to be able to have all the rights there with the health proxies and so forth like that. All of those I could agree on.
So it sounds like it mostly boils down to word marriage meaning something to you, having a certain religious connotation and one that you think should be preserved as a legal definition.
And even though past gay marriage bills have been explicit in that priests or other religious figures don't have to recognize their unions and don't have to solemnize them, that's not sufficient for you?