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New York Adventist Key to Marriage Equality Victory

According to an article, “The Thin Line Between Church and State,” in The Capitol, a paper that covers the politics of New York state:

Assemblyman Nelson Castro was one of three religious Democrats who changed their position last week as the Assembly passed a gay marriage bill 80-63 and sent it to the Senate, where it remains one vote shy of approval.


“I think marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I don’t have the right to prohibit others to have the right to get married,” said Castro, 39.


Negotiations on the marriage bill continued through the weekend, as opponents talked with the Cuomo administration about what religious exemptions would make them not feel compelled to assist marriages they cannot support. Advocates indicated they would not oppose those changes, and several wavering Senate Republicans have said religious concerns are their main objection to the bill.


Castro, who represents a western Bronx district, is the only Seventh-Day Adventist in the state’s legislature. Raised Catholic in the Dominican Republic, Castro voted “no” on a same-sex marriage bill in 2009 for religious reasons, but talks with gay activists, constituents and his pastor changed his mind this year, he said.


With his pastor, Castro “spoke about the fact that I thought it was the right thing to do. But religiously I was definitely torn. He said to me, ‘Look, civically, you have a responsibility to represent your community. That has nothing to do with God.’”


The bill’s language makes some exemptions for religious institutions – they aren’t required to officiate the vows of same-sex couples. Those exemptions allowed two other former Assembly “no” votes, Karim Camara and Nick Perry, to vote for the bill, Castro said.


According to Nelson Castro’s Assemblymember profile, he is a graduate of Andrews University:

. . .where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Holding true to the mission of his Alma Mater to, “Seek Knowledge, Affirm Faith, Change the World,” Nelson Castro returned to New York City with these sentiments in mind.

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