The beautiful glorious NOMtastic New York primary results
September 14th, 2012
What a beautiful glorious NOMtastic day.
The New York primary yesterday was unusual. In an unusual turn of events, the community’s focus was on the Republican side of the ticket where there were four candidates whom we were anxiously hoping to win.
It started back on June 24, 2011 when four Republican New York State Senators joined the Democratic Senators (all except Sen. Diaz) in supporting a change in the marriage law to allow couples of the same sex to marry. The “Republican Four”, as they became known, immediately became the chief targets of those who oppose equality.
By focusing on these four senators, the anti-gays took advantage of two political assumptions: to be a Republican, one must oppose equality; and Republican voters will reject any legislator that votes for equality.
These premises are essential for anti-gays to uphold in order to keep equality a partisan issue and to maintain discrimination in those parts of the country in which Republicans hold majorities. Should marriage equality become a matter of personal conscience and not a principle of the Party, it would invite thoughtful reflection and a careful review of the arguments. And opposition to equality cannot withstand thought and analysis; it relies on accepted and unquestioned partisanship and culture war positions.
Equally necessary is the threat of reprisal. The fear of angry citizens tossing out “the traitors” could keep potentially sympathetic Republican legislators in line. And as nearly every pro-gay vote has required at least some Republican support to pass – a situation that is likely to continue in the immediate future – scaring potentially supportive Republicans could immobilize our progress.
So threat was made: the National Organization for Marriage would take down these four Republican senators and thus intimidate any future Republicans across the nation that might consider supporting equality. Yesterday was the day of reckoning.
One senator, Jim Alesi, chose not to run after he made an incredibly stupid decision. He was in a housing development looking at houses. He found one house locked so he went in a basement door and climbed a ladder serving as a makeshift staircase and slipped and fell, injuring his leg. As it turns out, the house had been already sold. And while the owners (a retired couple) chose not to prosecute for trespass, he sued them for his injuries. Idiot. He immediately withdrew the lawsuit and apologized, but by then his political career was ambulatory dead.
Which left three senators under attack, Steve Saland (Poughkeepsie), Roy McDonald (Saratoga Springs), and Mark Grisanti (Buffalo).
But the anti-gays in chief, the National Organization for Marriage, had five targets in total:
The primary election candidates and the results are:
Democratic Senate District 10
James Sanders (NOM endorsed)
James Sanders beat Shirley Huntley with a 53-40 margin. But it’s rather unlikely that marriage had anything to do with this decision. A couple of weeks ago Huntley was arrested and indited with the felony charge of conspiracy in relation to a scheme to transfer state funds to her personal charity. And as she had been a vocal opponent to equality who only changed her vote under pressure (and rather unconvincingly), she’ll not be missed by the community.
NOM can call that a win if they like. I think it’s a bit embarrassing to do so, but that’s NOM.
Democratic Senate District 33
Manual Tavarez (NOM endorsed)
Rivera soundly defeated Tavarez.
Republican Senate District 41
Niel DiCarlo (NOM endorsed)
As of the final tally of the votes cast at polling stations, Saland was ahead of DiCarlo by 42 votes. This will come down to a count of the absentee ballots.
Republican Senate District 43
Kathleen Marchione (NOM endorsed)
The National Organization for Marriage (but not yours) is trumpeting victory in this election:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today celebrated the defeat of two incumbent state Senators who voted to redefine marriage in New York. NOM played a pivotal role in helping to defeat the incumbents, Roy McDonald and Shirley Huntley.
McDonald was defeated in the Republican primary by pro-marriage candidate Kathy Marchione. NOM was a major supporter of Marchione, sending two district-wide mailers and launching thousands of telephone calls.
However, that appears to have all the truthfulness of anything else NOM claims. As of the final tally of the votes cast at polling stations, Marchione ahead of McDonald by 130 votes with hundreds of absentee ballots outstanding.
Republican Senate District 60
Kevin Stocker (NOM endorsed)
NOM’s highest level of animus and anger were directed at Grisanti. Six months prior to the vote, he had stated his opposition to equality based on the teachings of his Catholic Church. But Grisanti is an unusual politician; he spent months listening to his constituents and supporters of marriage and trying to work out a thoughtful logical opposition to marriage. And once he found that thought and logic did not support his presumptions, he shocked anti-gays by changing his position and explaining the process he went through to get there.
Grisanti has been the target of a smear attack, with one opponent going so far as to send gay porn to voters. Making matters more difficult, Grisanti got caught up in a bar brawl this year. So the fact that Grisanti trounced Stocker is especially sweet.
We will have to see just how sweet the victory is. If McDonald and Saland end up victors, then NOM’s endorsement will continue it’s role as the kiss of death. We will either celebrate or lament when the final votes are counted. But in any case, today’s picture is one in which our community and a brave legislator have proven false the claim that for a Republican to vote for equality is a career ender.
NOM is, amusingly, also gleefully claiming victory in New Hampshire:
In New Hampshire, where incumbents almost never lose, two Republicans who betrayed marriage went down to defeat.
Ahem… considering that 119 Republicans “betrayed marriage” by voting to kill the anti-gay bill, I don’t think I’d blare that ‘victory’ too loudly, NOM.
And finally, there is one other race in which NOM did not nominate but which is worth noting.
Republican Senate District 15
In the final days of the race, Reyes sent out a flier attacking Ulrich for “hobnobbing” with gay people. He and his wife go to dinner with a fellow councilman and his husband. And Ulrich hired a gay chief of staff as well as another staffer and (in bold) Ulrich voted for gay marriage (in a city counsel vote of support).
Ulrich won handily.
All in all, a beautiful glorious NOMtastic day.