Rich Wall St. Republicans Enabled NY Gay Marriage Law

Gay marriage advocates cheer in the NY Senate gallery

On the night of June 23, 2011, at five minutes before midnight, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — a Democrat and nominal Roman Catholic — signed the gay marriage bill. With that, New York became the 6th and largest state in America to legalize gay marriage, joining Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Washington, D.C.

Andrew Cuomo

What made possible the passage of the bill is the critical role played by Republicans — both in the NY state Senate and at large.

Last November 2010, Democrats lost their majority in the NY state Senate. On the night of June 23, 2011, however, four Republicans (Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Roy McDonald of Saratoga Springs, James Alesi of Rochester) joined 29 Democrats to give the gay marriage bill one more vote than needed to pass, by a margin of 33 to 29.

But the votes of those four Republican senators had been bought by wealthy Republican donors.

As recounted by Michael Barbaro of the New York Times, June 25, 2011, a few weeks before the bill’s passage, two of Cuomo’s most trusted advisers held a secret meeting  with “a group of super-rich Republican donors.” In the 35th-floor conference room of a Manhattan highrise, “over tuna and turkey sandwiches,” the advisers asked for the GOP moneymen to help win over the deciding Senate Republicans by promising to insulate, with their money and power, the senators from a conservative backlash.

Paul Singer

The Wall Street moneybags in the room included billionaire and hedge fund founder Paul Singer, whose son is gay, and hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb.

Within days of that secret meeting, the wealthy Republicans sent back word:

Cliff Asness

They were on board. Each of them cut six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign that eventually totaled more than $1 million.

And so, as Barbaro puts it, the gay marriage bill succeeded because of the “behind the scenes” machinations. In Barbaro’s words:

Daniel Loeb

“[I]t was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition. And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.”

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar[…]

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

~T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)


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9 years ago

Despicable…every single one of them.

9 years ago

I heard there is a recall out on these so-called Republicans,I hope so.