(CNSNews.com) - As New York enacted a law late Friday that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state, the Roman Catholic bishops of New York released a statement saying they now expect efforts to enact laws that go after churches that insist on teaching the "timeless truths" about marriage and family.
"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love," the bishops said.
"But 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 those children and the spouses themselves," the bishops said. "This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
The statement was signed by the bishops of all eight Roman Catholic diocese in the state of New York, led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Manhattan-based Archdiocese of New York. The other bishops signing the statement included Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Diocese, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese, Bishop Edward Kmiec of the Buffalo Diocese, Bishop Terry LaValley of the Ogdensburg Diocese, Bishop Matthew H. Clark of the Rochester Diocese, Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre Diocese, and Bishop Robert Cunningham of the Syracuse Diocese.
The New York State Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill late Friday and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, signed the bill into law at 11:55 Friday night. The state assembly has passed the bill the week before. The law will go into effect in 30 days.
The law was enacted just in time for New York City's annual "gay pride" parade, which takes place on Sunday. The parade runs along Fifth Avenue, passing directly in front of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
"The passage by the legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled," the New York bishops said in their statement.
"We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization," they said.
"Our society must regain what it appears to have lost--a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America's foundational principles," said the bishops.
The Declaration of Independence justified the American colonies' break from Great Britain based on "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God" and famously stated that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz was the only state senator to speak out against the same-sex marriage bill on the Senate floor yesterday. "God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago," Diaz said.
Diaz is a minister in the Church of God.