There has been plenty of spin about what issues are really impacting today’s special election in New York. The National Organization for Marriage wants everybody to think the biggest issue is marriage, and has certainly gone out of its way to convince a sizable population of Orthodox Jews that they should vote for Catholic Bob Turner (R), who opposes marriage equality, instead of fellow-Orthodox Jew David Weprin (D) — who voted for the measure in New York’s Assembly this summer. But is that issue really a deciding factor today?
Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who has endorsed Turner, says it isn’t. He suggests that it wouldn’t make sense for the Orthodox Jews to be upset with Weprin over marriage because they support other pro-gay candidates:
KOCH: The Jews who are upset with David Weprin on the issue of gay marriage, they’re not upset on gay marriage. They support candidates who are for gay marriage. Like [Assembly Speaker] Shelly Silver — he’s their big candidate. And he’s for gay marriage. But they’re upset with Weprin. That’s what they tell me.
Turner has largely avoided the issue, focusing instead on jobs and the economy and suggesting that the campaign fears that strong opposition to marriage equality may alienate other key voter demographics. But while Turner himself has not campaigned on same-sex marriage, he still may be benefiting from his one-man/one-woman position on it. Weprin has suggested that Turner is “playing a double game” by letting his supporters (like NOM and other “family” groups) push the issue while he personally dodges it.
NOM will surely blame Weprin’s support for marriage equality for the possible upset, but with the issue outsourced to a third party and New York’s overwhelming support for maintaining the law, any election result will only prove that LGBT issues can still create a wedge, but aren’t nearly as contentious as they were in past elections.