Thursday, August 7, 2008

Assembly's Gay Rites Backers Reap Benefits - August 7, 2008 - The New York Sun

this article is great It shows that legislators get financial support regardless of party from the LGBT community if they vote in support of LGBT issues. This is an excellent tool to take to legislative visits.

Assembly's Gay Rites Backers Reap Benefits - August 7, 2008 - The New York Sun

Assembly's Gay Rites Backers Reap Benefits
Donations Pour In for Republicans
By JACOB GERSHMAN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | August 7, 2008

Assembly Republicans who bucked party leaders and voted to legalize same-sex marriage in New York have been rewarded with an outpouring of donations from gay rights advocates across the nation.

The lawmakers, who before voting for the measure had a relatively low profile in the Assembly and rarely raised money from ZIP codes outside their districts, have benefited from a fund-raising network stretching to at least nine other states.

The money has flowed in at such a rapid pace that these Republicans have seen more than half of their individual contributions in the latest filing cycle come from donors with addresses outside the state.

Their donations also far surpassed political giving from the national gay rights movement to Assembly Democrats who voted for the bill, including Democratic members in upstate districts with conservative leanings.

"It was very shocking to me to watch it come in," a Republican assemblywoman, Teresa Sayward, one of four Republicans who voted in favor of gay marriage, said.

During the most recent six-month campaign-finance filing period that ended July 15, Ms. Sayward, a former dairy farmer who represents a district in the state's North Country, received 30 out-of-state contributions from individuals out of a total of 68 donors.

About two-thirds of the money she raised from individuals came from donors in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

"The night I took the vote in June, I was told I would never be elected again. I'm running unopposed," Ms. Sayward said. "If I were to have a major challenger, that money could have played an important role in being able to get out the message."

Two of her donors were William Lewis and his partner Richard Underwood, who each gave Ms. Sayward $1,000 after they heard her speak about her vote at a gay rights conference in Miami this spring that was organized by the Gill Action Fund, an advocacy group founded by a philanthropist and computer software entrepreneur, Tim Gill.

At the conference, Ms. Sayward, who is Catholic, spoke about how over time she came to accept her son's homosexuality after conducting research into sexual orientation, and came to believe that gay marriage was a civil rights issue.

"She took a huge risk with what she did," Mr. Lewis, a real estate investor from Phoenix, said. "I think people who do the right thing should remain in office."

Another Republican who voted for gay marriage, Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava of Saint Lawrence County, received 26 out-of-state donations out of 34 individuals, making up $15,000 of her total haul of $18,700.

The show of solidarity comes as the campaign to make New York the third state to legalize gay marriage has hit a roadblock in the Republican-led Senate; the Democrat-led Assembly approved same-sex unions in an 85- 61 vote more than a year ago.

Yesterday, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, Dean Skelos, who represents a district on Long Island, reaffirmed his conference's opposition, telling The New York Sun that Republicans are "not supportive" of the measure.

A Republican senator of Brooklyn, Martin Golden, said the support received by Assembly Republicans would not influence his conference. "It's a strong belief among many Republicans that it's not the way to go. It's a core belief that we have. We stick with our core beliefs," he said.

"Many of them are a bunch of fossils from a bygone day," a Republican assemblyman of Dutchess County, Joel Miller, who also backed the bill, said of the Senate Republicans. "Constituents have changed. More of us represent a district in which there's a lot more people of diverse views."

Said Mr. Miller: "That's why these donations come in. They want to send a message that you can be a Republican, you can vote for gay marriage, and you can be re-elected."

About 65% of his $23,000 in individual contributions in the latest cycle came from out-of-state supporters.

"I'm very appreciative of it. It makes it easier for other legislators in other states to stand up and do what's right," Mr. Miller said. "This is money I would never have been able to raise."

Mr. Miller, a dentist who is facing a Democratic challenger, said his Republican colleagues last year urged him not to speak out in favor of gay marriage on the Assembly floor and to wait until the Democrats voted — and the bill's passage was a foregone conclusion — before placing his vote.

"I wanted it recognized that my vote counted. I told them I was prepared to leave the conference," Mr. Miller said.

He said in the days after the vote, he received only a handful of e-mail messages from people expressing disapproval. A few Republicans, he said, also refused to collect petition signatures for him.

"Has anyone threatened me? Has anyone called and told me they're not going to vote for me because of this vote? No one has done that," he said.

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