Friday’s same-sex marriage vote in New York makes one thing abundantly clear: an organized minority will trump a disorganized majority. The push for gay marriage was well planned and carefully executed, while the traditional-marriage folks were, for the most part, like a team of wild horses, pulling in every direction and getting nowhere, muddying the waters with irrelevant questions like the genetics of homosexuality or how many legal protections would be needed to make same-sex marriage safe. The lack of unity allowed lukewarm supporters of traditional marriage to be picked off one by one.
But in the end two groups let this bill happen: Catholics and Republicans.
Although the outcome was different, the debate on the floor of the Senate featured the same emotional speeches delivered by members of that body in 2009: “I was raised Catholic,” they invariably began, and just as invariably followed a tortuous path of anecdote, sentiment, and lawyerly language that led to a confident “And I support same-sex marriage.”
The specific arguments that rang hollowly on the Senate floor are less important than the sheer fact that they were made. Why did so many Catholics profess to feeling lost and uncertain about a question that the Church is actually quite clear on? The New York Times has an illuminating, if not flattering, answer to the question:
It was befuddling to gay-rights advocates: The Catholic Church, arguably the only institution with the authority and reach to derail same-sex marriage, seemed to shrink from the fight.
As the marriage bill hurtled toward a vote, the head of the church in New York, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, left town to lead a meeting of bishops in Seattle. He did not travel to Albany or deliver a major speech in the final days of the session. And when he did issue a strongly worded critique of the legislation — he called it “immoral” and an “ominous threat” — it was over the phone to an Albany-area radio show.
By the time a Catholic bishop from Brooklyn traveled to Albany last week to tell undecided senators that passing same-sex marriage “is not in keeping with the will of their people,” it was clear the church had been outmaneuvered by the highly organized same-sex marriage coalition, with its sprawling field team and, especially, its Wall Street donors.
“In many ways,” acknowledged Dennis Poust, of the New York State Catholic Conference, “we were outgunned. That is a lot to overcome.”
A great deal of courageous people exhausted themselves advocating against the bill, but in the end the Church’s opposition lacked unity and focus, allowing borderline votes to slip away unnoticed. And certainly Catholics weren’t the only Christians who voted for the bill – but, as the Times points out, people on all sides of the issue looked to Catholics to be a unified voice for Christianity. And that they were not.
Republicans, too, bear the responsibility. The Wall Street Journal reveals how internal Republican bickering about the state’s role in marriage law and what constitutes a civil right led major Wall Street financiers and Republican party figures to provide the key funds – and eventually the key votes – that pushed the bill into law.
But those GOP lawmakers [who voted for the bill] also received pledges of support from Wall Street, including from hedge fund manager Cliff Asness of AQR Capital Management. The political action committee of the Gill Action foundation, started by Tim Gill, promised aid.
A cadre of financial executives including Paul Singer, head of New York-based Elliott Associates, have been organizing efforts to support gay marriage for more than a year.
In September, Mr. Singer and Ken Mehlman, a partner and global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, were among the organizers of a fund-raiser to help push gay marriage legislation. Daniel Loeb, head of New York hedge-fund firm Third Point LLC, joined forces with Mssrs. Singer and Mehlman, telling colleagues and others that he considers it a civil-rights issue, one person close to him said. Hedge-fund investors have been calling to thank Mr. Loeb for backing the measure, the person said.
Let this be a lesson for future states, beginning with Minnesota, who enter this battleground: organize. Find a spokesman, an organization like National Organization for Marriage or something local, and work with one message. Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.
(Via: Thomas More Garrett)