Grisanti Defends Switch to 'Yes' on NY Gay Marriage

The Republican senator who helped give the New York gay marriage bill enough votes to pass last week has come out trying to explain his switch from a staunch opponent to now apparently a supporter of same-sex marriage.

Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo said simply, "You do the research and you do the work, and that's how I changed," according to WGRZ.

Those same comments were made last Friday, when the New York Senate voted 33 to 29 to allow gays and lesbians to marry. Grisanti, a Catholic, who was considered undecided on the issue, shocked many of his supporters when he voted "yes" on the bill.

While apologizing to those who voted for him, Grisanti stated on the senate floor that "you can be wiser today than yesterday when you do the work. I cannot deny a person ... the same rights that I have with my wife."

"I vote in the affirmative."

On Monday, Grisanti was confronted with a letter ( he sent in 2008 to ministers when he first ran for the state senate as a Democrat. In it, he said, "I am inalterably opposed to gay marriage. ... I believe my victory would make an important statement on behalf of those in Western New York who oppose the radical agenda of Senator [Antoine] Thompson and the Senate Democratic leadership on the gay marriage issue."

"The 60th District is a heavily Christian working class constituency. I believe that I more accurately reflect the traditional values of this District," he also wrote.

He lost the election that year but won in 2010 as a Republican.

Grisanti, who is also a lawyer, admitted to reporters on Monday that during his first run three years ago, it "was probably more political than actually conscience" with regard to the issue of same-sex marriage.

"I had not done the research. Basically opposed it as my Catholic upbringing was to oppose it," he said.

He also conceded that he did mislead those who voted for him that year on that issue alone.

But he tried to point out that he did not run on the issue of gay marriage during the 2010 election, saying he did not send out one piece of literature on the subject.

Still, his switch will likely place a dent on any future run.

The National Organization for Marriage has launched a campaign to collect $2 million to essentially boot legislators who "betrayed marriage" from the Senate.

"Help us defeat the New York Senators that betrayed marriage," NOM states on its website, with a picture of Grisanti and six others plastered on the page.

"NOM has defeated every pro-gay marriage Republican we've ever targeted, and we're quite confident we will do so in New York," NOM President Brian Brown has asserted.

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