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How "gay marriage" passed in Republican-controlled NY Senate: Pressure, payoffs, political cowardice, selling out of principles

POSTED: June 28, 2011

It was arguably the biggest sell-out in modern American political history. A group of "pro-family" Republican Senators who already had the power to stop "gay marriage" in New York decided to take the easy route, and simply stepped back and gave in to their opponents.

This is a story about treachery and cowardice in the face of pressure when the most important vote in decades was taking place.

Late Friday night, in its last action of the 2011 legislative session, the Republican-controlled New York State Senate passed Gov. Cuomo's "gay marriage" bill 33-29. Within hours it was signed by the Governor. New Yorkers will now be legally forced to recognize the bizarre concept of men marrying other men.

In your face: Right after the "gay marriage" vote the Empire State Building was lit up in rainbow colors.

This wasn't inevitable. On June 15 it had easily passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly 80-63. However, the Senate had been considered a nearly impenetrable obstacle. After all, the Republicans could easily have blocked it without a vote. And the 2011 legislative session was scheduled to end in just a few days, on June 20.

But we knew there was trouble when the only New York State Senator energetically opposing the bill was a Democrat from the South Bronx -- while the Republicans stood around with their hands in their pockets watching it go down.

The Republicans had the power

There are 62 members of the New York Senate - 32 Republicans and 30 Democrats. According to the rules, the majority party can block any bill from coming to the floor. In effect, the Republican Majority Leader, Sen. Dean Skelos, had the power to do that.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos
-- who helped bring "gay marriage" to New York. .

But although Skelos said he opposed the bill, he announced that he would personally not block it. Instead he said he'd let the Republicans decide in their caucus what to do. This was ecstatic news to the other side.

After the "gay marriage" bill failed to pass in 2009, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had made it his top priority to pass it this year. For months, as the Governor got ready to file the bill, the homosexual lobby pressured Democrats and Republicans who had opposed it.

As recently as late May all but one of the Senate Democrats had flipped, but there were enough Senators publicly against the bill that "gay marriage" would still go down by at least 4 votes. Cuomo and the homosexual lobby kept the pressure going.

On June 15, the Governor finally officially filed the bill and ran it through the Assembly. By then the informal tally was down to 1 vote in the Senate, and even that was very shaky.

And it turned out that the Republicans had bungled the scheduling of a number of important bills and they were forced to extend the session an extra four days after the June 20 deadline to accommodate that. Skelos made the decision to save the "gay marriage" bill to the end, giving the opposition even more time to apply pressure.

The fatal move

On Friday, June 24, when all the other bills had been dispatched, it was clear to everyone that enough Republicans had defected and that "gay marriage" would surely pass. So when the Republicans caucused late Friday afternoon they knew what would happen if they allowed it to go to the floor. They took a vote and decided to let it go to the floor.

Sure enough, when the floor vote was taken 29 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted 'yes' and it passed. (See final bill text and vote tally HERE.)

This begs the question: If 28 "pro-family" Republicans opposed the bill versus 4 supporting it, why did they vote to let it go to the floor, knowing it would pass? Basically, it was more political treachery and cowardice. They wanted it to look to their constituents like they were opposing "gay marriage," but in fact they were quietly giving in to the Governor, the homosexuals, and the liberal establishment to let the bill be voted on. We posed this observation to a veteran lobbyist in Albany, who unhesitatingly agreed with us.

Unprecedented sleaze during the floor vote

And it got even stranger. At approximately 10 pm Friday night when the bill came to the Senate floor some unprecedented and outrageous things happened. All of it was obviously planned and decided in advance by the Senate leadership: the Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his Democrat counterpart. It included:

  • The doors to the Senate chamber were locked and guards were stationed at the doors to keep anyone from leaving before the actual vote took place. One observer told us that in the nearly 30 years of working there he had never seen that done. At least one Senator got visibly angry but was ignored. (There had been rumors - probably true - that some fence-sitters had planned to leave rather than vote when the bill got to the floor, thus jeopardizing the bill's passage.)
  • It was announced the that the proceedings on the bill were to move quickly in order to be done in time for it to be on the 11 pm TV news. (We're not making this up. It actually happened.) 
  • No debate was allowed. No questions. No explaining of positions. Instead, four Senators were selected by the leadership to each give a 2-minute speech on his position.  All four supported the bill -- three had "flipped" from being against it, and the fourth was the bill's sponsor.  The normal Senate rules call for any Senator to be able to give a 2-minute speech during the debate period. Sen. Diaz (D-South Bronx) stood up and demanded that the normal rules be followed, but he was ignored.
  • There was no roll call vote. Just a quick show of hands of those Senators who supported the bill. For a bill of this significance such this was unheard of.

After the vote was taken the Governor was on hand to sign it and the homosexual movement began its celebration. And, yes, it made the 11 pm news. Its passage would also be in time for NYC's annual "Gay Pride" events that weekend

How it all happened: Hardcore pressure starting from Governor

As the New York Times reported in its analysis the day after the vote, Governor Anthony Cuomo was the catalyst and leader of this push. He pulled out all the stops. He reportedly put more time into this effort than all the other issues before him combined.

Starting in early April the Governor held weekly strategy meetings with homosexual leaders, lobbyists, and two specially appointed staff people. The Governor himself acted as chief strategist. He considered this his defining issue.

Keeping up the pressure. Marc Solomon, homosexual activist and national political coordinator for "Freedom to Marry" was quite visible outside the Senate chambers during the final days before the vote. [MassResistance photo]

Cuomo raised over $1 million from Republican donors, in addition to the already huge funding coming from the national homosexual movement. They coordinated thousands of targeted calls, postcards, and emails to Senators opposed or on the fence.

Cuomo personally met with individual Republican senators from "moderate" districts and gave them the full court press on the "civil rights" of gay marriage, and allegedly threatened to support their opposition and deny public funds to projects in their districts if they continued to hold out.

As the Times reported:

A major target was James S. Alesi, a Republican from suburban Rochester . . .

The coalition approached him from every angle. The Republican donors invited him to a meeting on Park Avenue, telling him they would eagerly support him if he backed same-sex marriage . . .

The advocates collected 5,000 signed postcards from his constituents and nudged a major employer in his district, Xerox, to endorse the bill.

And Mr. Cuomo called him, over and over, to address his objections and allay his fears. He told Senator Alesi that as the first Republican to endorse same-sex marriage, he "would show real courage to the gay community."

On June 13, Alesi officially announced he was supporting the bill and publicly apologized to the homosexual community for having opposed it.

Also, Politico reported:

[Sen. Mark] Grisanti, who said he struggled with the vote because he is Catholic, had been against same-sex marriage when he was elected last year, but changed his mind after an intense lobbying campaign, which included a call from Lady Gaga to her fans to contact him.

"I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage," Grisanti said.

And that was just the beginning. In addition:

  • We heard reports of enormous amounts of money being offered to senators to change their votes. Among those involved was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, formerly a Republican but now an Independent, who strongly supports "gay marriage."  In the last election cycle he personally donated $800,000 to the NY Senate Re-election Campaign Committee. Bloomberg reportedly met with six Senators and told them that they "owed him" and that he would donate the money to their opponents in the next election if they didn't support this bill.
  • The homosexual movement was as vicious as ever. Sen. Shirley Huntley, a Democrat from Queens, we are told is "a strong Christian lady" who supported traditional marriage. Then homosexual activists picketed outside her house, stalked her, and harassed her obsessively. Finally, she gave up and supported the bill.
  • Sen. Karl Kruger, a pro-family Democrat from Brooklyn, voted against the bill in 2009. This year, homosexual activists demonstrated outside his house screaming that he was secretly gay. His family was so traumatized that he also gave up and supported the bill.

The State Republican Party was also part of the cave-in. As the Staten Island Real-Time News reported on June 14:

Under pressure in Albany to flip from a "no" to a "yes" on same-sex marriage, state Sen. Andrew Lanza would not face a primary next year if he makes the switch, incoming Republican Party chairman Bob Scamardella promised today.

Lanza ended up voting "no" nevertheless.

But mostly it was political pressure from the Governor and the homosexual movement using a lot of money from wealthy Republicans. Ultimately just about every Republican senator in opposition backed down in one way or another.

It was a shameful, pathetic situation. As one veteran observer told us, "Politics outweighed common sense. Their main thought was, 'What will be best for me?'"

The "religious exemption" sideshow

During the final few weeks, especially near the end, there was a lot of serious Senate discussion about "religious exemptions." They seemed to feel a pressing need to add sufficient language to "protect" churches and church businesses in order to make "gay marriage" palatable. Nevertheless, pro-family church groups, including the Catholic Conference, Evangelical Christians, and Orthodox Rabbis, saw right through saw right through that and opposed it on principle.

The one shining star in this battle

Unbelievably, while all the Republicans were caving in it was a self-described liberal Democrat who led the charge in the Senate for traditional marriage -- and was the only visible legislator doing that.

Sen. Ruben Diaz, a South Bronx Democrat is also a Pentecostal Minister and a charismatic and unshakeable man of principle. He refused to back down on what he considered a moral truth. As the "gay marriage" debate heated up in the final week, he led the charge.

Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-South Bronx), the only unflinching public champion for traditional marriage in the NY Legislature. [MassResistance photo.]

On Tuesday, June 22, National Review Online published a scathing article that Sen. Diaz co-wrote with an unlikely ally--the head of the NY Conservative Party:

If the NY Senate Passes Gay Marriage, It's Republicans Who Will Take the Heat
By Ruben Diaz & Michael Long
June 22, 2011

We are two lifelong New Yorkers who do not agree about many things. We are of different races, religions, and political parties. One of us is a Bronx liberal Democrat, the other of us heads the Conservative party.

But we agree on at least three great truths:

First, marriage is and should remain the union of husband and wife. Same-sex marriage is a government takeover of an institution the government did not create and should not redefine.

Second, gay marriage is not inevitable. The mainstream media widely retailed a misconstrued version of Sen. Rev. Diaz's remarks in Albany this week. We both agree, as Senator Diaz said, that if a gay-marriage bill passes it will be because the GOP caved for no discernible good reason at all.

Third, as practical pols we agree: If gay marriage passes, it is Republicans across the state who will pay the biggest price. . .

Read the entire article HERE.

But Sen. Rubin didn't stop there. The following day he brought in 5 busloads of Christians from his district who jammed into the hallway outside of the Senate Chambers as Sen. Rubin led them in an incredible pro-marriage rally of songs and chants. We were there, and could see that made a stunning impression on the legislators inside. (And it completely overwhelmed the homosexual activists who gathered to intimidate any pro-family people who came to lobby.)

Watch this exclusive MassResistance VIDEO of Sen. Sen. Rubin Diaz's REAL pro-marriage rally in the hallway outside the Senate chambers:

Unfortunately, Sen. Diaz has paid a price for his integrity. As we all know, with the homosexual movement "tolerance" only goes one way. Diaz has recently received several death threats and the police and even the FBI are now involved.

Though overwhelmed, a spirited fight from our side

It's generally estimated that our side was outspent by 100-1 in this battle. The sad truth is that unlike the left (or RINO Republicans) who lavishly fund any left-wing cause such as "gay marriage," there are few conservative millionaires willing to write big checks to fight the homosexual agenda in a state legislature.

But there was some hard battling on our side nevertheless. Over the final week, it's estimated that dozens of ministers and pastors brought nearly a thousand people from Hispanic churches, Evangelical churches, and other Protestant churches across New York to the State House to demonstrate for morality. Most of the time the homosexual activists still outnumbered our side, but occasionally the numbers were on our side.

In the background, National Organization for Marriage did thousands of important robo-calls and other get-out-the-message activities in key districts and also state-wide.

The New York Catholic Conference officially opposed the bill and did some behind-the-scenes lobbying. But there was no public Catholic activist presence at the State House or in public rallies, like there was in Massachusetts.

Several pro-family individual groups lobbied tirelessly in Albany all week. There was a good Tea Party presence. People even came from other states. Maryland activist Robert Braudus spent a day there. Bishop Harry Jackson, the nationally known black minister, came from Washington DC. And of course, MassResistance.

Anthony Falzarano, an ex-gay who runs a well-known ex-gay ministry in Florida, spent most of the week there. At one point there were seven prominent ex-gays lobbying at the same time including Greg Quinlan of PFOX and others.

Unquestionably, there was no shortage of strong pro-family messages getting to the legislators. They heard it loud and clear. The trouble was, most of them had already sold their souls.

Where does New York go from here?

Unlike other states, New York does not have an effective method of a citizens' referendum process which could be used to overturn this. Anything attempted would have to go through the Assembly, which is overwhelmingly liberal and pro-gay marriage.

The thing on everyone's minds now is political retribution for such blatant treachery, cowardice, and selling out of principles by Republicans and certain Democrats. Eventually this may include not only those who voted for the bill, but those who voted in the Republican caucus to let it go to the floor, knowing it would pass.

The Conservative Party has said it will pull its support from those Republicans, which in some districts has been their margin of victory. Other major groups have indicated they will either support their Democrat opponents or run Republican opponents in the primaries.

The National Organization for Marriage has said they will spend over $1 million to defeat turncoat Republicans.

As expected, there were immediate calls for Dean Skelos (at the very least) to resign as Republican Majority Leader, as the primary individual responsible for the bill's passage.

In any case, this is a painful lesson for all of us about trusting "pro-family" politicians -- and a loud wake-up call about the anti-family direction of the Republican Party. We've seen it in Massachusetts and other states over the last few years. We'd all better "get it" before it's too late.

Take that, America: Two days after the vote we saw this poster on a traffic light pole on Fifth Avenue.
[MassResistance photo.]