Monday, December 17, 2012

NYS Senators' Marriage Equality Support Punished

With last week's concession of defeat by State Senator Saland, three of the four Republican State Senators who supported marriage equality will no longer be in the State Senate.

Marriage Equality Victory in NY

In June of this year, the New York State Senate approved the marriage equality law that now governs our state. The Assembly had already passed it, and the Governor signed it immediately.

The State Senate passage was made possible by the support of four Republicans State Senators who joined with all but one of the Democrats in the State Senate "after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes."

Three of Four Republicans Not Returning to the State Senate

Since the thrill of the June victory, we have had a primary election and a general election. Those elections have not been kind to the Republicans who courageously pushed marriage equality over the finish line in New York State. In the end, the loss of these Republicans strengthened the Democrats and strengthened the support in the New York State Senate for marriage equality.

The New York Times described what has happened to the four Republican State Senators who supported marriage equality:

" . . . when the Legislature returns to Albany next month, only one of those four senators will be among those sworn into office. One, facing the prospect of a tough challenge, decided not to run again; a second was defeated by a more conservative Republican in a primary, and on Thursday, a third conceded defeat after a monthlong paper-ballot counting process in a three-way race in which a more conservative candidate drew so many votes from him that the race was won by a Democrat.       
"Activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue nationwide had kept a close eye on the fate of the four New York Republicans, whose re-election battles were depicted as a de facto referendum on whether it was electorally safe for Republicans to support same-sex marriage. Gay-rights advocates talked hopefully of being able to persuade Republican legislators in other statehouses that voting for same-sex marriage did not amount to political suicide.        
"But, same-sex marriage opponents paid for billboards to denounce the incumbents and predicted that voters would punish the senators for switching their positions. The outcry against the Republicans had an awkward side effect — although conservatives contributed significantly to their fates, two of the three are being replaced by Democrats who support same-sex marriage.

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