New York’s GOP Dissidents

by Stephen H. Miller on April 15, 2012

The New York Times Magazine looks at the political prospects of the four Republican New York State senators who voted for marriage equality and provided the necessary margin for it to pass. “The four Republican apostates now had targets on their backs,” the Times reports. However:

…if you parse public opinion, you find the acceptance of gay marriage is not just growing; it is accelerating. This is driven, of course, by the overwhelming support of young voters, but also by white Catholics, who have grown more open-minded on gay rightss. …

Opponents of gay marriage used to hold their opinion more passionately than supporters. But as more Americans have openly gay children, siblings, friends and neighbors, the supporters feel just as strongly.

On the other hand:

African-American support for gay marriage has remained stubborn, hovering around 30 percent for years, for reasons of class and education and because of the centrality of church in their lives. According to internal memos of the National Organization for Marriage, the anti-gay-marriage lobby sees an opportunity to play on the fact that some blacks resent hearing gay marriage likened to their own civil rights struggle.

Interestingly, the article notes that the four senators:

are upstate guys, from struggling former mill towns and diminished Rust Belt cities. So while the senators’ political calculus differs from district to district, their experiences give us a glimpse into how this issue is likely to play out in “real America,” as conservatives are fond of calling it, and not just in the coastal metropolises. Which is why the fates of these four are being watched intently by national lobbies and wavering politicians across the country.

Their re-election would be a welcome sign of progress.

{ 2 comments }

Tom Scharbach April 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm

The article notes this: “All four of the Republican senators who voted for the bill and provided the necessary margin for it to pass had been elected with the Conservative endorsement, a prize for which opposition to gay marriage was an essential litmus test. Two of those wayward senators would not have won their seats without the Conservative boost. Try as they might to explain away the defections — perhaps it was the lure of money from gay hedge-fund billionaires, or some devilish deal with Cuomo — the Conservatives feared that this defeat, if not punished, could mean an ominous loss of influence.

None of the four seem to be in much danger of a loss to a Democrat in the general election. Mark Grisanti was at the highest risk, but redistricting seems to have given him a more conservative district than this former district, so he should be safe enough from a Democratic challenger. As are the others. So I gather that the fight will be an intra-conservative fight, to see if the Conservative/NOM anti-marriage coalition can knock them off before the general election.

It that’s right, then the intra-party fights are a good opportunity for conservative gays and lesbians to help the New York 4 out with a generous donation.

A pro-equality Republican Party won’t come by wishing.

Mark April 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

It’s also worth pointing out–as revealed in a section of the article not excerpted above–that all four of these senators have received considerable financial support from equality supporters around the country, and have far larger warchests than most NYS senators.

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