GOP Donors Defend Pro-Marriage New York Republicans (New York Times, 1/17/12)

Posted on: January 17, 2012

Money Flows to Republican Backers of Gay Marriage
By DANNY HAKIM
ALBANY — Gay rights advocates from Wall Street to Hollywood poured donations into the coffers of four little-known Republican state senators after the lawmakers provided the decisive votes for same-sex marriage in New York last June, according to new campaign finance filings released on Tuesday.

The support for the four senators, whose votes broke ranks with their party, is seen by gay rights leaders as symbolically important for their movement nationally, because in many states same-sex marriage could become law only with support from Republicans, as well as conservative Democrats. Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State are expected to consider same-sex marriage legislation this year.

The four New York Republicans had been threatened with political retribution by the state’s Conservative Party, and now face possible challenges from both the left and the right, but same-sex marriage supporters had promised to help them politically if they supported the issue.

“It was essential to send a clear signal around the country that we will support those who support equality, irrespective of party,” said Brian Ellner, a senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. “We were able to win marriage in New York with a bipartisan coalition of fair-minded elected officials. We need to replicate that if we are to keep winning.”

All four Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage sharply increased their fund-raising in the six months after the marriage bill passed, in many cases raising money from people they had never met. And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who forcefully pushed the legislation, raised $6 million in six months helped by fund-raisers that highlighted his support for same-sex marriage.

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