Republican Donors Funding Fight To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage In New York

Perhaps the most interesting development coming out of the ongoing legislative battle in the Empire State is the fact that Republicans are the ones donating to the cause:

As gay rights advocates intensify their campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, the bulk of their money is coming from an unexpected source: a group of conservative financiers and wealthy donors to the Republican Party, most of whom are known for bankrolling right-leaning candidates and causes.

Their behind-the-scenes financial support — about $1 million in donations, delivered in recent weeks to a new coalition of gay rights organizations — could alter the political calculus of Albany lawmakers, especially the Republican state senators in whose hands the fate of gay marriage rests.

The donors represent some of New York’s wealthiest and most politically active figures and include Paul E. Singer, a hedge fund manager and top-tier Republican donor, as well as two other financiers, Steven A. Cohen and Clifford S. Asness.

At the same time, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist who has been a major contributor to Senate Republicans in New York, plans a significant push for same-sex marriage: giving at least $100,000 of his own money, hosting a fund-raiser at an Upper East Side town house, traveling to Albany to lobby lawmakers and giving a speech on the issue.

The new donations represent roughly two-thirds of the same-sex marriage coalition’s fund-raising, making New York the rare state where a lobbying campaign in favor of legalizing gay unions is not being financed primarily by liberal donors and Democrats. The support is likely to jolt the traditional financial and political backers of gay rights causes, who now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being outraised and outspent in New York.

The donations are financing an intensive campaign of television advertisements and grass-roots activism coordinated by New Yorkers United for Marriage, a group of same-sex marriage advocates. The campaign is aimed chiefly at persuading several members of the Senate Republican majority to join most Senate Democrats in backing same-sex marriage, which was defeated in the Senate in 2009. The State Assembly, controlled by Democrats, has repeatedly passed same-sex marriage bills.

The newly recruited donors argue that permitting same-sex marriage is consistent with conservative principles of personal liberty and small government.

“I’m a pretty straight-down-the-line small-government guy,” said Mr. Asness, who described himself as a libertarian who favored less government intrusion in both markets and personal affairs. Mr. Asness, a frequent Republican donor, has praised Tea Party activists on his blog and last year attended a conference of right-leaning donors held by Charles and David Koch, among the leading conservative philanthropists in the nation.

“This is an issue of basic freedom,” Mr. Asness said.

That’s what it really boils down to for me and, apparently, a good chunk of New York Republicans.


FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Herb says:

    Nice. Of course there are two ways this is going to play out: Such displays of tolerance will catch on and Republicans will attract voters who were previously repelled by the anti-gay agenda.

    Or the chorus will start singing our favorite “RINO” song…

  2. Well remember this is New York and, outside of places like Long Island, Republicans tend to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. The same is true in New Jersey for the most part, where the state has had civil unions for years now and the GOP has never even hinted that they’d be in favor of changing that law.

  3. Southern Hoosier says:

    I wonder if a group of top Republicans are getting ready to come out of the closet?

  4. Right SH because only gay people could possibly believe in marriage equality.

  5. Southern Hoosier says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 13:04

    Right SH because only gay people could possibly believe in marriage equality.

    Glad we agree LOL