N.Y. Marriage: Hey, You Never Know



NY SENATE X390 | ADVOCATE.COMIn realpolitik the flip side of punishment is reward, where the same substantial resources that defeated incumbents who vote against marriage equality can also be allocated to protect lawmakers who support the bill. The lesson could prove critical in courting Republicans, as at least four and possibly as many as eight GOP senators are believed to be willing to support the bill under the right conditions, which their camp argues failed to materialize last year.

“There were at least four Republicans who would have considered voting yes if the Democrats could get close, but they had no interest in committing political suicide if the Democrats were as short as they were,” said Republican strategist Roger Stone, who this year advised gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino but publicly rebuked the candidate for his antigay comments.

Simply put, prospective Republican allies need to be assured the bill will pass and that advocates can provide cover in the event their vote prompts a primary or general election challenge from the right.

“We’re confident that if Democrats are able to provide the margin of victory for a handful of Republicans, that those votes will be there,” said Gregory T. Angelo, spokesman for the New York chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans. “There are certainly enough to put the vote over the top.”

Angelo said his group plans to use the instructive example of assembly member Janet Duprey in conversations with lawmakers. The Republican from the upstate North Country lost the highly coveted nod of the Conservative Party over her vote for marriage equality, but with the backing of Log Cabin and other groups, she won a three-way general election with 62% of the vote in November.

In addition to carrots and sticks, observers point to the larger history of gay rights legislation under Republicans in New York. The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act of 2003 and the hate-crimes bill of 2000 passed under a Republican senate and were signed by a Republican governor, George Pataki.

“The Republican Party has a huge opportunity to become the majority party once again,” said consultant Tom Doherty, who served in the Pataki administration. “They have a real opportunity to not be secondary citizens anymore if on the social issues, particularly gay marriage, they send a signal of what should be their conservative beliefs: We want less government. That includes what two adults do in their own home.”

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