Adam Polaski

NY's Marriage Equality Republicans May Face Backlash

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 28, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Conservative Party, Grisanti, marriage equality, McDonalds, New York marriage equality, Republicans, Saland

RepublicansDown.jpgIn the Republican-controlled New York State Senate, marriage equality would not have passed without the votes of a few Republicans. Even with all but one Democrat voting in favor of marriage equality, the senators simply didn't have the votes.

Four Republican state senators crossed party lines on the issue last Friday, bringing the vote to 33-29. The four Republicans were James Alesi, Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald, and Stephen Saland.

Since the vote, the Republicans have faced opposition from social conservatives, who have said they would pull campaign funding from the senators and actively seek to unseat them from their positions.

Mark Grisanti said that he is unsure whether his pro-equality vote will have negative implications for his future career as a Republican senator. "People say I committed political suicide," he told a local media outlet in Buffalo.

Michael Long, chairman of the NY State Conservative Committee, has stated that his organization will likely pull its endorsement of Sen. Saland as a result of his vote. Long told the Mid-Hudson News, "The Conservative Party has to be true to its principles and those principles are supporting marriage between a man and a woman and we can no longer endorse people who don't respect that or honor that commitment."

The Poughkeepsie Journal provided further details about Saland's current relationship with the Conservative Party.

The Dutchess County Conservative Party chairwoman Patricia Killian said [Saland's] future with the party "is null and void." Asked how she felt about his decision, she responded, "Disappointed as I've seldom been disappointed in my life."

Conservative groups vowed to spend $2 million next year to defeat him and other Republicans who supported the bill.

Alesi has also said that he expects to lose support from the Conservative Party, the organization that responded to news of the vote with a press release entitled, "Passage of Same-Sex Marriage is a Disaster for the Future", when he runs for reelection in 2012. Alesi was the first Republican senator in New York to come out in favor of marriage equality.

Roy McDonald also publicly broke party lines quite early, when he told press a week before the vote that he was intending to support marriage equality. He famously said, in support of the marriage equality bill:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f**k it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing.

Unsurprisingly, McDonald has also been threatened with backlash from the Conservative Party.

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What I'm wondering about is what're we supposed to do now? These Republicans did the right thing and stuck their necks out for marriage equality, should we support them now that they are being threatened for it?

That depends on whether you think their behaviour should be encouraged, or punished.

If they got an increased vote, it might not just give the message to other GOP politicians that it's OK to vote for GLBT rights, it might send a message to Democrats too. To vote for GLBT rights, or lose to someone who will.

california panda | June 28, 2011 8:36 PM

Republican conservatives = neanderthals in suits

It's likely that these regressive conservatives will be counterbalanced (at least in funding) by a group of wealthy libertarians who were critical in securing the GOP Senators who voted in support of marriage equality.

Ted Hayes Ted Hayes | June 29, 2011 7:22 AM

Michael Long has been president/chairman of the New York Conservative Party since 1988. Here is what says:

"In order to get the endorsement of the Conservative Party, one of the deal breakers is traditional marriage," Mr. Long told the New York Times. "You say 'I'm not for traditional marriage,' you're not going to get our endorsement. It's as simple as that."

In other words, if you vote for marriage equality, kiss our support goodbye. (Since, according to the Huffington Post column, "No Republican has won statewide office without the Conservative Party's support in more than three decades," these four courageous senators have put doing the right thing out there for the rest of the "yielding" senators of their party to consider.)

IMHO, is this not a form of bribery? "You vote the way we say and we'll provide support for your election; if not, you're on your own." How is that any different from a federal senator who has been accused of bribery for blocking the pay $20,000 raise of the Interior Secretary unless said cabinet member does as the senator demands for his interests?

But isn't it also the same thing as Bloomberg, one of the largest individual donor to Republicans, threatening to stop funding Republicans who don't vote for marriage equality?

I'm not a Republican, but these are interesting conversations to have about why our system is built on searching after the money to get elected and reelected and reelected.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | June 29, 2011 7:40 AM

Pretty clearly those four GOP senators knew well the political risks they were taking by voting for marriage equality in New York. Presumably each is interested in re-election, but to some, maybe all, that may not be the end-all-be-all of their existence. As to whether or not the LGBT community or any LGBT individual decides to support/vote for them should depend on an overall assessment of where they stand on other issues. Are they "Republicans in Name Only" or otherwise rather "conservative" folks who just happen to think conservatism and human rights aren't mutually exclusive? The reality in New York, absent some sea change in the electorate, seems to suggest that legislative repeal of the new law is anywhere near the horizon. But I'm open to a more astute observer of New York politics to correct me.

Marc Paige | June 29, 2011 12:12 PM

I do not live in New York, and I have never donated to a Republican before, but the NY vote was so important that I want to thank these four Republican senators. You can bet they have received ugly messages from those "married" to the idea of gay inequality. Here's how to donate: (Senator Jim Alesi), (Senator Mark Grisanti), (Senator Roy McDonald), and Saland For Senate, PO Box 2056, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 (Senator Stephen Saland).

Jay Kallio | June 29, 2011 3:29 PM

This situation with the 4 Republican State Senators is a real dilemma for me, because while I genuinely appreciate their vote for Marriage Equality, I profoundly disagree with their other positions as Republicans. LGBT issues are not the only issues I vote on. I support sending each of these Senators $33.29 to send them a message of "thanks!", but I cannot go further than that, given the rest of their voting record and positions taken on issues vital to NY.

For myself, the only resolution to this conflict I can rest easy with is to remain their loyal, respectful, civil, and thoughtful political opposition, as they remain mine. It doesn't always feel adequate, but then, many of us sacrifice much more than a political office when we do the right thing. Doing the right thing can be a very expensive, even calamitous, decision. Comes with the territory... Life isn't fair.