Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, was a good day for marriage.
North Carolina legislators voted to send a marriage amendment to the people of that state in 2012.
And in New York, the first clear Democratic casualty of gay marriage emerged: David Weprin.
Bob Turner, a Republican whom nobody gave a chance of winning two months ago, is sitting in the seat held by Anthony Weiner, Chuck Schumer and Geraldine Ferraro.
Yes, economic collapse was a huge issue. Yes, Obama’s disrespect for Israel, which led former New York City mayor Ed Koch to endorse Bob Turner, was another very big deal. Yes, as my colleague and friend Brian Brown put it, “David Weprin was not able to defend himself against his vote to support same-sex marriage in New York, and his constituents made that clear.”
Turner may have personally downplayed the marriage issue to get Koch’s endorsement, but the Orthodox Jewish community decided to send a message of its own. As Village Voice put it: “Despite the economy, (the NY-9 election) has somewhat surprisingly shaped up instead as a referendum on same-sex marriage.”
Dov Hikind, another prominent New York Democrat (and a state assemblyman) who crossed party lines to endorse Bob Turner, was crystal clear on Weprin’s same-sex marriage vote: “This is an underlying issue that is extremely powerful. … I can tell you this is a real serious issue among Jews, among Orthodox Jews, among Catholics,” Hikind told The Weekly Standard.
Forty Orthodox rabbis in Flatbush went so far as to declare that it is “Assur (forbidden according to Torah law) to vote for, campaign for, fund or otherwise support the campaign of New York State Assemblyman David Weprin.”
To answer any lingering doubters in the mainstream media about the impact of Weprin’s vote for gay marriage, the National Organization for Marriage (of which I’m co-founder) just released results of a flash survey polling 251 likely NY-9 special election voters, who were questioned Monday and Tuesday, that confirms gay marriage played a big role in Weprin’s defeat.
These voters opposed gay marriage 50 percent to 38 percent. Those who opposed gay marriage voted for Turner 81 percent to 19 percent. Moreover, among voters who oppose gay marriage, 44 percent said Weprin’s position was a factor in their vote, compared to just 29 percent of the much smaller minority who favor gay marriage in the district.
NOM’s survey broke new ground by, for the first time ever, identifying Orthodox Jews as a distinct voting bloc. In NY-9, they constituted 13 percent of the voters, and they broke for Turner 91 percent to 9 percent. (Twenty-nine percent of non-Orthodox Jews also broke party lines to vote for Turner.) David Weprin’s position on same-sex marriage was a specific factor in the voting decision of 72 percent of Orthodox Jews, 29 percent of other Jews, 27 percent of Catholics, and 33 percent of other Christians.
“This survey demonstrates what many people have been saying for a long time — David Weprin’s vote in favor of same-sex marriage cost him election to the U.S. House,” said Brian Brown. “Legislators were sold a bill of goods when they were told by Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg and the Human Rights Campaign that they could redefine marriage and suffer no political consequences.”
He has a point: If Andrew Cuomo couldn’t save a Democrat who voted for gay marriage, how effective will he be in protecting the four GOP legislators who betrayed their constiuents to vote for it?
The majority of Democrats may not break with their party over an issue like gay marriage, but the most important voters are voters newly in motion, particularly core constituents willing to break party lines over a new issue. In NY-9, Orthodox Jews (and possibly Hispanics) played that role, and they broke party lines to protest Democrats’ support for gay marriage.
In North Carolina, look for a newly resurgent black church — almost all Democrats — to lead the battle for protecting our marriage tradition against those who dub it hateful, bigoted and discriminatory.
Brian Brown draws one very clear message from Tuesday’s election results: “Our message to the rest of the politicians in Albany who voted to redefine marriage is this: ‘You’re next.'”
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