NY Readies to Wed Gay Couples; Conservatives Expect Backlash

Conservatives insist the battle for marriage is not lost despite the many same-sex couples who are preparing to wed their partners in New York after the 24th. Instead, they are preparing for a public backlash they believe will restore marriage to its traditional definition.

Despite the expected July 24 celebrations and victory statements from New York celebrities and officials, Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for Policy at the Family Research Council, asserts, "We haven't lost any momentum."

Sprigg says gay marriage legislation was enacted in New York because the residents were not allowed to decide the issue in a referendum.

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"Thirty-one is the number of states that have voted at the ballot box and ... all 31 of those states have voted to uphold a traditional definition of marriage," he noted.

"We haven't lost any momentum on this in terms of the public's view of [marriage]," said Sprigg.

Indeed large numbers of opponents protested in the halls of the state capitol last month, outnumbering supporters, according to some news reports. Minsters sang songs such "victory is mine" and tea party protesters carried signs proclaiming, "Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman."

Stars such as former New York Giants wider receiver David Tyree also joined the protest, hand delivering 63,000 petitions against same-sex marriage to Senate Republicans.

Despite the public momentum, Sprigg concedes it will take a while before there is a New York referendum on marriage.

"Certainly we would like to see it go on the ballot there as well," he shared. "But my understanding is that it's very difficult to put an issue on the ballot in New York."

While conservatives regroup, gay rights advocates seem to be charging ahead with celebrations and future plans.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday plans to wed 764 couples on the day the gay marriage law is enacted. Officials are holding an online lottery to fill the available slots for gay and lesbian couples looking to wed on Sunday.

New York actress and outspoken lesbian Cynthia Nixon wrote to Newsweek, saying, "As a nation, I think we're at a turning point in the fight for marriage equality."

She also proclaimed, "We need more politicians to get out there and lead as they did in New York."

Yesterday, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's spokeswoman, Raquel Guillory, hinted that he may be considering another gay marriage bill. Maryland lawmakers shelved a gay marriage bill less than four months ago when it appeared it would not pass.

While gay rights activists are charging ahead, Sprigg says it is the people who will have the last word. The people, he says, have shown America that support for same-sex marriage is a regional phenomenon, not a national one.

"If you look at a map of where same-sex marriage is legal, it is entirely confined to a very narrow corner of the Northeastern United States."

As activists continue to push same-sex marriage on people, Sprigg says he anticipates a public backlash.

"I think we've already seen it in other states," he said. "The legislature in Maine underwent a complete transformation in the 2010 elections and that was largely as a result of the fact that previous legislature had legalized same-sex marriage."

State voters had also overturned the marriage law the year before.

In New York, he expects voters to "turn out of office all of the Republicans in the [state] Senate who voted in favor of the same-sex marriage bill."

The National Organization for Marriage is working to ensure the public has a chance to express their frustrations with their lawmakers’ actions.

The group is spending $150,000 to send out mailings in the districts of Republican Senators Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald, James Alesi and Stephen Saland, and Democratic Senators Shirley Huntley, Joseph Addabbo and Carl Kruger. The mailings highlight how their actions led to the redefinition of marriage and put them in the company of betrayers like Benedict Arnold.

Additionally, the group plans to hold multiple rallies on Sunday in Albany, New York City, Rochester and Buffalo to ask State officials for a referendum.

"It is the people on Main Street who should be able to vote on this issue, not billionaires on Wall Street,” said NOM President Brian Brown. “We will not rest until the people of New York have the right to vote on marriage just as voters in 31 other states have been able to do."

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