Why Anti-Marriage Equality Groups Don’t Pose A Serious Threat To Pro-Marriage Republicans

The New York Times’ Erik Eckholm and Katharine Seelye report on the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) pledge to “spend $2 million in 2012 to defeat New York’s four ‘turncoat senators’ who ‘betrayed marriage’” and wonder if conservatives who voted for marriage equality will face an uphill reelection reelection fight:

The organization [NOM], which says it expects to raise $20 million this year from Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian groups as well as individual donors, is gearing up for intense battles over same-sex marriage in several other states; so far, voters in 29 states have adopted constitutional amendments banning it.

Since the vote, the Family Research Council, one of the largest conservative Christian advocacy groups, started hearing from more followers who wanted to defend traditional marriage, and officials said they expected a jump in donations.

“More than ever before, people are seeing this as a national issue,” said Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the council.

Well financed conservative groups certainly represent some degree of danger to marriage equality proponents, but this threat shouldn’t be overstated. Consider New York. NOM pledged thousands of dollars to defeat same-sex marriage in the state, but the law still passed as Republicans realized that voters — even conservative voters — didn’t view the issue as a priority. In fact, since 2007, all four Republican assembly members who have broken ranks and voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry have won reelection “typically without even having to face a primary challenger.” Most recently, Democrat and marriage equality advocate Kathy Hochul secured victory in the NY-26 special election, despite NOM’s marriage-focused campaign against her.


NOM and other anti-marriage organizations may secure a few isolated victories, but they will be fighting the prevailing trends of increasing popular acceptance of marriage equality and the growing number of conservative and Republican donors who are willing to spend millions to help make that policy a reality. As Sen. Mark Grisanti (R) — one of the four Republicans who voted in favor of New York’s marriage law — recently told YNN News when asked if he feared a conservative backlash, “I’m comfortable with my decision and my vote because I think it was a balance, and whatever NOM wants to do, as I said, that’s what makes this country great. Go ahead and do what you’ve got to do.”