Voting 'Yes' to Same-Sex Marriage May Cost NY Politicians

Political leaders seeking re-election may have lost a bundle of financial support for the next election cycle despite the victory songs being sung by proponents of New York’s historic vote to legalize same-sex marriage this week.

Religious groups, individuals and the clergy contributed more than $3.1 million to political candidates and their campaigns in 2008, according to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Despite stereotypes that people of faith are often conservative and frequently Republicans, 58 percent of these contributions actually went to Democrats. During the last two decades, contributions have actually been evenly split between the two major parties.

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The National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) president, Brian Brown, doubled his previous pledge after New York's vote, promising to commit "at least $2 million" in elections in 2012 to make sure Republicans understand that voting for gay marriage has consequences.

“The Republican party has torn up its contract with the voters who trusted them,” Brown said after hearing about the Senate's decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Selling out your principles to get elected is wrong. Selling out your principles to get the other guy elected is just plain dumb.”

Brown told followers that gay marriage has consequences for the next generation, for parents, and for religious people, institutions and small business owners.

“Politicians who campaign one way on marriage, and then vote the other, need to understand: betraying and misleading voters has consequences, too. We are not giving up, we will continue to fight to protect marriage in New York, as we are actively doing in New Hampshire and Iowa.”

NOM’s pledge to commit at least $2 million in the 2012 elections to hold politicians accountable for their vote includes independent expenditures as well as through NOM PAC New York.

Surveys tell us Republican voters, conservatives and those age 65 or older are among the least flexible on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Proponents of gay marriage, however, are less likely to give the issue a central role in their decision-making.

Right now, voters who favor the marriage amendment and won't consider a candidate who disagrees with them on the issue of gay marriage are conservative, religious, and Southern.

It should be mentioned that contributions from religious groups and the clergy have increased dramatically since 2002. For the 2002 cycle, contributions totaled $783,000.

Just two years later, in 2004, contributions totaled more than $2 million. That year, divisive social issues of interest to many religious groups, such as gay marriage and partial-birth abortion, also received heightened national attention, according to the report by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Religious institutions and leaders have continued to struggle with policies, privileges and rites regarding homosexuality, including whether or not to bless same-sex unions and whether or not gays and lesbians may hold positions of authority.

It has been reported that in 2005, the United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to support same-sex marriage officially when its general synod passed a resolution affirming, "equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender." The resolution was adopted in the face of efforts to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, individual Christians in the public arena are speaking up about New York's vote.

David Tyree, whose catch in Super Bowl XLII is among the most amazing plays in NFL postseason history, lately has been speaking some pretty unforgettable words against same sex marriage.

In a recent video for the National Organization for Marriage, Tyree said passage of a gay marriage bill would lead to "anarchy." He followed that up by telling the New York Daily News on Monday that he would trade his iconic catch and the Super Bowl victory over the Patriots for a ban on gay marriage.

"I'm really talking about the moral fabric of our country," he told reporters.

Methodists, Presbyterians and American Baptist Churches have also debated the issue of same-sex marriage while other Christian denominations have struggled with how to minister to gay and lesbian members.

Fundamentalist denominations have made significant efforts against homosexuality. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, reports that it has expelled congregations that welcomed homosexuals to their memberships.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted to his followers after New York’s vote, “…Same-sex marriage approved by 33-29 vote in New York senate. Sad day for marriage...and for us all.”

His tweets were consistent and frequent this week in response to the Senate’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Now, fully 1 in 9 Americans will live in a state with legalized same-sex marriage. Our mission field is getting more complicated," he tweeted this week.

Mohler also tweeted, “note how many NY senators were willing to sacrifice marriage with flimsy promises of religious liberty protections. Watch carefully.”

With a historic vote by its Legislature late Friday, New York became the sixth and most populous state to legalize same-sex marriage since Massachusetts led the way, under court order, in 2004.

The Family Research Council posted on their blog that the reason marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman is because it takes precisely one man and one woman to create a new human life.

"Marriage is treated as a public institution because it is in the public interest (not just in the private interest of particular couples) for the human race to reproduce and continue into future generations," the organization says on their website.

“The core message of the opposition to homosexual “marriage” is not just, ‘Don’t make us perform same-sex weddings in our church.’ Instead, it is: ‘Society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad,’” wrote Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

“That’s true whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist.”

As far as proponents go, there are many, but they are not in the religious category.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay marriage group, said the triumph for gay rights supporters in New York provides a roadmap for victory for groups in other states.

Maryland and Rhode Island, where same-sex marriage supporters fought losing battles this year, are each certain to see a renewed push in the 2012 legislative sessions, while in California a legal battle continues over Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum forbidding gay marriage.

When the New York law takes effect July 24, same-sex weddings will be legal in six states and Washington, D.C. New York, New Hampshire and Vermont legalized the process in state legislatures, while Iowa, Massachusetts and Connecticut did so through the courts.

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