Opponents of gay marriage say their
base has been energized by New York's decision to legalize the
New York will begin issuing marriage
licenses to gay and lesbian couples on July 25 after four Republican
senators joined all but one Democrat, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the
Bronx, last month in voting in favor of a gay marriage bill heavily
lobbied for by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Initial reaction to Cuomo's
announcement that he would back a plan to make the Empire State the
sixth – and most populous – state to legalize gay marriage ranged
from amusement to cautious optimism. After all, a Democrat-led
Senate had fallen 8 votes shy of approving a similar measure just 19
months earlier. Now Republicans were in control, and the GOP caucus
appeared united in its opposition. Moreover, lawmakers in Rhode
Island and Maryland had reversed course on marriage equality after
loud protests from opponents. Undaunted, Cuomo, and gay rights
groups working in the state, pressed ahead throughout the spring and
early summer, dispatching supporters to rallies and releasing an
endless stream of videos featuring prominent figures urging New
Yorkers to support marriage equality.
The last-minute introduction of Cuomo's
long-promised gay marriage bill turned the tide. Within 24 hours the
Senate was tied on the measure after two Republicans and three
Democrats lined up behind the governor's effort.
Immediately after the bill's passage,
opponents began crying foul, saying supporters had bought the four
Republican votes that helped pass the bill in the Senate.
The win has already emboldened
supporters in other states, including Maine, where
backers this week announced they'll take their cause to the voters
next year, and Colorado, where civil unions appear headed for a
second try in the Legislature.
But opponents are also reaping benefits
from the decision as they prepare for the battles that lay ahead in
Minnesota and North Carolina, states looking to constitutionally ban
gay marriage next year.
According to The New York Times,
the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country's most
vociferous opponent of gay marriage, says it expects to raise $20
million this year from religious groups and individual donors. And
it has already pledged $2 million to repeal the law in New York.
Senator James S. Alesi, one of the four
Republicans who voted for the measure, has already pledged to work
against NOM's efforts.
“It's important for a Republican to
go to other Republicans and say, 'Remember who we are – we're the
party of Lincoln, we call ourselves the big tent, and I'm here to
help you pitch the tent,” Alesi
told the paper.