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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gay Marriage Legalized In New York, The Sixth and Largest State To Do So-- by a Republican Senate

On a 33-29 vote in the Republican-controlled New York state senate, gay marriage has become legal in the sixth U.S. state, which is now also the largest state to have legalized gay marriage. The Wall Street Journal calculates that over 10% of Americans now live in a state where gay marriage is legal:

At the present, gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as Washington, D.C. Adding on New York, those places would constitute more than 10% of the American population. Several other states allow for civil unions of same-sex couples.

Writing at the National Review Online, Maggie Gallagher chastises the New York GOP for "caving," and argues that the party "will pay a grave price" for its role in legalizing gay marriage:

Here is what we know. In state after state, Democrats who control a chamber in support of their base have prevented votes favorable to marriage: Iowa, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.

When Democrats are in the minority, they’ve demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their base — in Wisconsin and Indiana fleeing the state to prevent a vote.

N.Y, Republicans did not have to bring gay marriage up for a vote: What does it mean that they passed gay marriage in N.Y.?

Michael Long, the Conservative-party chairman, has vowed to withhold his endorsement. The National Organization for Marriage has committed $2 million to persuading Republicans: Voting for gay marriage has consequences.

But is the Republican base really that interested in gay marriage anymore? Certainly state ballot initiatives across the country in recent years have shown a rather stubborn commitment to state definitions of marriage as "one man and one woman," but we are seeing a dramatically different country, economy, and Republican Party these days than the one we saw in 2004.

Americans are focused on the economy and jobs most of all right now. The Republican Party has re-focused its priorities on fiscal conservatism and economic issues because of the Tea Party's influence. Polling has shown a country growing more and more supportive of "marriage equality" over the last decade.

Gallagher could be right and the New York GOP might suffer short-term electoral setbacks in the next couple years by putting off some of its voter base, but the sheer statistical truth is that on a big picture, national level the GOP will only pay a grave price if it continues to lag behind the rest of the country in tolerance for alternative sexual orientations and remain beholden to a constituency that insists on using the force of government to bully and discriminate against gays in this country.

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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