Dear Marriage Supporter,
On Sunday the people of New York laid down a marker: Politicians cannot sell out their base, sell out their principles, lie to their people, and pass a law which is a lie about human nature, without consequences.
Votes have consequences.
Thousands of New Yorkers turned out on a very hot Sunday, with a threat of thunderstorms, to make the message clear.
We estimated 10,000 people across the five cities that had rallies. I was in Albany and Maggie was in Manhattan, along with Sen. Rev Rubén Díaz and a number of local pastors organized by (evangelical) Bishop Joe Mattera. The Associated Press said there were "thousands."
And even a Wall Street Journal editor who is deeply skeptical of our capacity to get a marriage amendment through the legislature to the people had to admit:
"We happened to run into the group's New York City march yesterday as it crossed Second Avenue, and the turnout was impressive. It was the biggest demonstration we can remember seeing in the neighborhood, which gets a lot of them thanks to its proximity to the U.N. Most interesting, it was a very diverse crowd—we'd say a quarter to a third black, with lots of Hispanics."
We generated massive media on a day the mainstream media had set aside to celebrate gay marriage in New York.
More than 150 different radio and TV outlets, from WABC News to "This American Life," included a mention of "Let the People Vote" rallies, which were sponsored not only by NOM but by a coalition of local state groups.
International Business Times: "More than 10,000 supporters of "Let The People Vote" rallies marched in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo starting 3 p.m. on Sunday, urging the Legislature to put the issue of gay marriage before voters in a statewide referendum."
BBC/Reuters: "The National Organization for Marriage held rallies in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo on Sunday, accusing Mr Cuomo and lawmakers of redefining marriage without consulting voters."
Bloomberg News: "One of the rally's organizers, the National Organization for Marriage, also held events in Albany, Buffalo and Rochester. The group has pledged to spend millions of dollars ousting lawmakers who voted in favor of same-sex marriage."
Of course not everybody in print media got the story right. UPI was probably the worst: "Opponents of gay marriage maintained a low profile. The Times said an informal poll of New York clergy found the vast majority did not intend to address the issue in their Sunday sermons."
... a low profile?
We carefully did not aim our protest at individuals hosting private ceremonies, but at politicians in Albany who passed gay marriage without a vote of the people.
In Buffalo, for example, pastors confronted Mark Grisanti, the state senator who had repeatedly said he was "unalterably" opposed to gay marriage before voting for it.
In Buffalo, "You say that the Church now has special protection," Mount Olive Baptist Pastor Rev. William Gillson called out to Mark Grisanti. "Before you voted, I didn't need special protection."
Local TV news coverage was generally fair, especially in upstate New York.
Here's Megan Cruz's YNN coverage of the hundreds at the Albany rally, where I spoke.
But the national network news coverage was biased in the extreme, incompetent, and, well, just plain dreadful, which may be no surprise.
A Culture and Media analysis of 239 programs aired on CNN from June 15 to July 15 found that pro-gay-marriage supporters were quoted or interviewed nearly four times more often than critics.
That's no surprise. Here's the real surprise: Of the major networks, CNN's biased coverage of our rally, was actually the least slanted. That's right—ABC, NBC, and CBS did an even more biased job than CNN.
Liberal analyst Howard Kurtz, on his "Reliable Sources" show on July 3, acknowledged "the media's celebration—there really is no other word—of the gay marriage debate in New York."
On the Today show and Good Morning America, ABC News and NBC News actually featured a tiny, infamous "Westboro Baptist" contingent of haters and blasphemers (for saying that God hates is to take His name in vain)—showing their photo and not even mentioning the massive "Let the People Vote" rally held around the corner.
Poor Elizabeth Hasselbeck of the View, whom we admire for sticking up for David Tyree (even though she's pro-gay-marriage), was one of those misled, attacking gay marriage protests as in "bad taste." (Pretty strong words for a Midwestern Christian!)
And on Fox News it was as if the massive rallies simply did not exist. We note with growing concern how rarely Fox News reports in a balanced way on the gay marriage issue—with a few shining exceptions like Bill O'Reilly.
If this were a one-off we might be more worried about what the mainstream media said. But let me assure you that this is just the beginning of an 18-month campaign to make sure that politicians in Albany cannot sell out marriage without consequences.
How are the politics unfolding? Well, Shirley Huntley, a black democrat from Queens who flip-flopped to vote for gay marriage, recently told reporters she thinks gay marriage will help flip the Senate back from Republican to Democratic control. Gov. Cuomo is expressing similar confidence that the gay marriage vote will be helpful politically.
"What I've said is that I believe [that for] the legislators who voted for marriage equality, this is actually going to be an asset to them in their campaign; I believe that," he said.
Meanwhile Republicans are justifiably nervous. One of the upstate Republicans who voted for gay marriage, Jim Alesi, was at the press conference with Gov. Cuomo and was nervously trying to forestall a primary challenge. "...Alesi has had a strained relationship with both the Republican and Conservative parties in his home district, for a variety of reasons predating his marriage vote, but cautioned Republicans against trying to oust him in a primary." reported PolitickerNY. "I don't think this is the make or break issue here," said Alesi. "I think it's important to understand for someone like me, if I were the loser in a primary, I don’t know of anybody else in my district that is going to hold this seat. ...So a loss in a primary for me, I think, would be disastrous for the Republican majority."
This is one of the things that Dean Skelos, a majority leader, ought to have considered when he agreed to bring gay marriage up for a floor vote. It's the majority leader's job to protect his caucus, not to win plaudits in the New York Times or help Andrew Cuomo run for president.
At the rally a reporter tried to relay the absurd meme that politically it was "good" for the Republicans to have helped pass gay marriage. Mayor Bloomberg's and Tim Gill's cash flowed into their coffers immediately after the vote, and a new lawsuit brought by our friends New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom even alleges an illegal quid pro quo (very hard to prove).
Greg Ball, who voted against gay marriage, has raised three times the money of any other freshman, including Grisanti.
We don't have to argue with mainstream media types. In 2012 New York will have an election. These senators will face their voters, in primaries and in general elections. We will find out if New Yorkers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island, and New York City really like electing politicians who lie, flip-flop and then brag about how noble it was to sell out their base and their constituents.
Will GOP elites nationally be misled by this absurd new meme that it's safe for Republicans to vote for gay marriage—not to mention abandoning the other social issues?
We got a very troubling, albeit only preliminary, warning sign from Gov. Rick Perry. We love Gov. Perry, who has a very strong record on life and marriage—but on the other hand, this just happened.
It happened at the Aspen Institute, a very upscale, insider gathering, where people from both sides of the aisle comes together to share ideas, rub elbows, and confirm one another as members of the cosmopolitan elite.
It was at this venue that Gov. Perry was asked about New York's gay marriage bill, and according to multiple reports he said he was "fine" with it because such decisions should be left up to the states.
Fine? Fine with gay marriage?
Somebody should ask him: Is he fine with Ruth Sheldon being threatened with criminal prosecution if she does not do gay marriages? Is he fine with Illinois attempting to drive Catholic adoption agencies out of business, too?
Will social conservatives really stand by and select as their standard-bearer a man or woman who is just fine with Republicans selling out their base to pass gay marriage in New York?
Rick Santorum, God bless him, immediately came out swinging, tweeting: "So Gov Perry, if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?"
Here's more on Rick standing up for marriage:
A gauntlet has been thrown down. The battle has been joined! Will other leading GOP candidates stand up for marriage?
Fortunately, as I write, we're getting the good news that Gov. Perry has taken the time to make it clear that he's not really "fine" with gay marriage in New York. In a just-released interview with the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Gov. Perry reaffirms his support for a federal marriage amendment, saying, "I probably needed to add a few words after that 'it's fine with me,' and that it's fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue. Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn't changed." On the marriage amendment, he said, "That amendment ... defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and it protects the states from being told otherwise. And it respects the right of the people in the state by requiring that three-quarters of the states vote to ratify. It's really strong medicine."
It's up to you and me to make sure Republicans insiders do not lead good men and women into imagining they can and should drop marriage and life from the Republican Party's mission. (Just as in New York we joined hands with Democrats seeking to hold their leaders accountable.)
As Maggie pointed out in her column last week, no issue unites Republicans more than the social issues, including life but especially marriage.
Even the latest polls, which show that the mushy middle can be pushed into saying they support gay marriage, show Republicans standing united, with 88 percent in the "not fine with gay marriage" camp.
One thing we promise you: We will not sell out the core truths of Genesis, not for any price.
Together you and I have done amazing things for marriage.
We will never give up, never give in, never sell our souls or our votes for a mess of pottage; we will continue to be, with love and clarity, your voice for your values.
Here's me, Maggie, and Sen. Rubén Díaz at last Sundays rallies
As Maggie said, "In the end, I promise you, truth and love will prevail."
God bless you!
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage