Two Republican state senators who crossed the aisle and voted in support of New York State’s marriage-equality measure last year faced such close calls in yesterday’s primary election that the results will only be determined after absentee ballots have been counted.
When the votes were tallied last night, Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie (right) was leading his opponent by 42 votes, while Senator Roy McDonald of Saratoga trailed his challenger by some 100 ballots.
In both cases, the Election Board will count absentee ballots to determine the outcome.
Though state elections, Saland and McDonald’s campaigns have been closely watched by both sides of the marriage debate nationwide. They’re seen as veritable canaries in the coalmine when it comes to the fate of pro-marriage-equality Republicans. When the bill came before the New York Legislature, Saland—who had voted against an earlier version in 2009—said “I have defined doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality…And that equality includes the definition of marriage. I fear that to do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing.”
Another GOP candidate who backed gay marriage in New York, Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, had a clear victory yesterday. He soundly defeated challenger Kevin Stocker, who had used Grisanti’s pro-equality stance as a campaign tactic. Grisanti still faces a serious threat from his Democratic opponent in November.
The last of the four Republicans who voted for marriage equality, Senator James S. Alesi of Monroe County, decided not to seek re-election.
“We’re thrilled with Senator Grisanti’s win, and remain optimistic and hopeful that Senators McDonald and Saland will prevail when all the votes are counted,” said marriage activist Brian Ellner. “These legislators, they followed their conscience, they did the right thing, and they’ve made New York a better place to live for all of us.”
Garnering the support of Republicans is key in passing same-sex-marriage legislation, especially on the state level. But it requires members of the LGBT community to support those same GOP candidates when election season arrives. Are you willing to get into bed with a Republican for the right to marry your partner? Vote with your keystrokes in the comment section!