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NY Times: Ethnic neighborhoods not thrilled with new homosexual marriage law

Not everybody’s delighted with the New York state legislature’s controversial same-sex marriage law, particularly some of the Big Apple’s ethnic neighborhoods, writes Dan Bilefsky in the New York Times.

“The legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State has been embraced by many in the city,” he writes. “But in some neighborhoods heavily populated by immigrants from countries where homosexuality is less accepted, the idea is stirring feelings of unease or, at times, outright disgust.”

He cites the Sunnyside neighborhood of the city’s Queens borough. ”As in some other parts of the city, same-sex marriage has laid bare the clash between the social conservatism of many immigrants and the values of the often wealthier and more liberal newcomers to the neighborhood,” Bilefsky writes:

Aliihsan Simcek, 63, a former police officer from Ankara, said many Turks in New York opposed same-sex marriage because Islam regards homosexuality as a sin. “Here in America, everything is possible,” he said. “I am not against gays, just gay marriage. I don’t want to see two guys kissing or two men adopting a child. I’ll never go to this Molly Blooms. What they do behind four walls is their business.”

Dean Sirigos, 50, a Greek-American writer for the National Herald, a Greek newspaper based in Long Island City, Queens, said that among the 450,000 Greek-Americans in the New York metropolitan region, the debate over same-sex marriage had created a culture clash and a generational divide. In a National Herald poll late last month, about 1,000 Greek-Americans were asked, “Do you approve of gay marriage?” Eighty-six percent of the respondents said no.

“In Flushing, Queens, one of New York’s most polyglot neighborhoods,” writes Bilefsky, “with one of the largest Asian communities in the country, opponents of same-sex marriage said they had felt sidelined during the debate over it.”

Dian Song Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said many Chinese-Americans did not support same-sex marriage, especially those from mainland China, which has socially conservative Communist rulers. Mr. Yu said many Chinese-Americans had imported the values of their homeland, where gay-oriented Web sites are blocked, gay characters are largely absent from television and coming out remains rare.

Even some who back same-sex marriage expressed ambivalence. The Rev. Joseph D. Jerome, a Haitian-American who is the rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunnyside, said that although he supported the right of same-sex couples to wed, he was not ready to officiate at such marriages.

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