The four New York State Republican senators who in June voted in favor of passing a marriage bill that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state have been receiving significant financial support from pro-gay activists from across the nation, leaving some to speculate if money was the motivation for their votes against traditional marriage.
The four senators – Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo, James S. Alesi of Rochester, Stephen M. Saland of Poughkeepsie and Roy J. McDonald of Saratoga County – are being hailed by pro-gay activists as setting the precedent for other Republicans to break party ranks and declare their support for same-sex marriage. According to an article from The New York Times published Jan. 17, the four representatives have been receiving a significant increase in donations since voting on the bill, called the Marriage Equality Act.
McDonald reportedly raised $447,000 within the past six months, and was famously quoted as saying that those who disapproved of his support for same-sex marriage "can take the job and shove it."
Saland, who kept his position on same-sex marriage unclear until he voted in favor of the bill, has raised $425,000.
Grisanti brought in another $325,000, while Alesi, who has not yet returned his fund-raising report, stated that he raised somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000.
The donations have allegedly been streaming in from gay-rights activists from around the nation, with donors originating from Wall Street to Hollywood. Some observers view the donations as rewards for the senators making "the right choice," while others see this turn of events as an example of back-door politics and a means of buying votes. With Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State set to consider same-sex marriage legislation later this year, the question becomes whether Republican representatives from those states will also vote against their party, which has historically been in support of traditional marriage.
Peter LaBarbera, founder of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, a single-issue national group that seeks to counter what it describes as the growing gay agenda in the country, told The Christian Post that despite these apparent monetary rewards, the Republican candidates will pay the price when they stand for re-election and their constituents decide to punish them for their role in helping to legalize same-sex marriage.
"I would hope that these Republicans pay the price for voting for homosexual 'so-called' marriage," LaBarbera said. "The homosexual side wants to get in there and give them money and get them re-elected, but I would think they probably face a tough road. They are desperate. They basically abandoned the pro-family cause."
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"I don’t know if all the pro-gay money in the world can save them," he added. "There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican party taking place. The base of the Republican Party remains pro-family, but the Libertarians are hard at work, like mayor (NYC Mayor Michael) Bloomberg, who want to steal the Republican Party and make it a pro-gay marriage party. That would be a disaster, in my view."
"There are very few Republicans who vote pro-gay. The future of the Republican Party is not homosexual. The future of the Republican Party is keeping it pro-family, preserving religious freedom, all the things that are threatened by the gay marriage threat."
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, an organization that campaigns for the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, disagreed with LaBabera's prediction. In his assessment, the Republican Party is shifting on homosexual issues and the senators who voted for the bill in June stand a good chance of getting re-elected.
"I don’t think it is surprising that when elected officials do the right thing supporters respond by supporting their candidacy and defending them against threats from outside groups that have tried to go after them. Political battles mean that elected officials sometimes have to raise war chests in order to defend themselves against attacks," Wolfson said.
"What the [NY Times report] shows is that there is actually a lot of support within the Republican Party and outside for Republican legislators to support the freedom to marry. I think we are going to see more legislators doing the right thing, not just because of money and politics, but because they, like most Americans, see that supporting the freedom to marry is the fair and right thing to do."
"Republican support has begun to move. There are so many other pressing issues going on in the country, and very few people are going to cast their vote against a candidate solely because they voted for an issue they believe was the right thing to do."
A spokeswoman for the Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization, agreed with LaBabera, suggesting that, come election time, politicians who voted in favor of same-sex marriage will suffer dearly.
"This election cycle is really going to tell the heart of the people. Some groups may be thinking that the Republican Party is shifting, but when you look at the type of meetings that took place – the back-door meetings, I think the public outcry will truly be quite telling to see if they’re going to win with what happened here – because no one wants to see these types of politics taking place."
She added, "It is going to be an interesting time for elections; it is going to be an interesting time for those who believe in traditional marriage to go to the polls and tell the other groups 'We are not accepting of this.' "
Pastor Art Kohl of Faith Bible Baptist Church in Eden, N.Y. – who said in a sermon to his church after the Marriage Equality Act was passed that the bill's passage "should leave Christians grieving – grieving that our God has been offended" – shared his thoughts on the allegations.
Kohl revealed to The Christian Post that he felt resigned to the bill, and despite his efforts, he was unable to convince Republicans and Democrats to oppose it.
"At the time, I had written to every one of these senators, both from the Republican and Democratic side, a letter, and I had sent them a booklet on what the Bible says – I found 20 different books in the Bible that address homosexuality. I listed all the verses in the Bible and sent it to them – I got a few responses, but I was hoping they would read the Scriptures and let that influence the way they vote," the pastor said.
"I am sorry about these senators and the choices they made – and if it’s true that they are receiving money, I am sorry for that, too. We certainly need (people) in government who are not going to be swayed by money. You hate to see them in these lobbyists’ back pocket," he added.
"I am a little bit cynical right now about those in the political realm. Most (Republicans) voted against it (the pro-gay marriage bill), but those four that didn’t – that hurt, and I still think they did the wrong thing," Kohl concluded.