Hundreds of advocates have registered with the Erie County Conservative Party, which staunchly opposes same-sex marriage, in order to help New York state senator Mark Grisanti, one of four Republicans who voted for the marriage equality bill.
According to WGRZ, at least 250 advocates, most of them gay, signed up to ensure that Grisanti wins the nomination of the Conservative Party, a crucial nod for a Republican running for reelection in New York. Conservative Party chairman Michael Long has vowed not to support any senator who voted for the bill, which passed the senate by a vote of 33 to 29 in June.
Grisanti, a freshman, is considered highly vulnerable in his heavily Democratic district in Buffalo. Like other senators who voted for the bill, he has been targeted with ominous billboards by the National Organization for Marriage. High-profile donors including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist Tim Gill and hedge fund manager Phil Singer have raised more than $1.2 million for their re-election campaigns of Grisanti and senators James Alesi, Roy McDonald and Stephen Saland.
"I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage," said Grisanti, a Democrat turned Republican, in his remarks before the vote for the marriage equality bill in June.
WGRZ reports that the registration drive was organized as a "wake up" to the Conservative Party by Kitty Lambert-Rudd, a local activist who married her partner, Cheryle, at the stroke of midnight on July 24 when the new law took effect. Lambert-Rudd did not switch her own registration.
However, according to WGRZ, "She succeeded in convincing 250 Erie County Residents, plus more than 50 in surrounding counties, to switch their registration to vote for Grisanti. The Conservative Party in Erie County has approximately 11,900 registered voters."
Erie County Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was not pleased with the strategy. He said, "I'm happy to grow the number of conservatives. But I'm not happy they're joining for one reason - to disrupt the party."
The new Conservative Party members will not be eligible to return to their previous party until the primary election in 2013.
Watch the report,