Last night at a reception in the East Village, Log Cabin Republicans honored the three Republican New York State Assemblymembers who voted to pass the marriage equality bill on June 19. Joel Miller (R-Poughkeepsie), Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) and Dede Scozzafava (R-Gouverneur) were all present and spoke briefly about their reasons for voting for the bill:
Joel Miller noted that civil unions are not acceptable alternatives to full marriage equality and that other states had exemplified this. He said that he knew personally of the hardships that same-sex couples face by being denied the right to marry because he has gay friends and family. Perhaps most interestingly, Assemblymember Miller also told of the unbelievable excuses that people would come up with and level of dishonesty that they would sink to in trying to explain why they wouldn't or couldn't vote to pass the marriage bill.
Dede Scozzafava said that she initially had a hard time deciding to vote for the bill, but ever since has realized that it was the right thing to do and that it really wasn't hard at all to do something that was so obviously about equal rights. She mentioned that there is more support than people think for the issue in the North Country and that people there "have a libertarian streak." She has received a lot of feedback since the vote and it has been mostly supportive. She ended by saying that she had been listening to Ahmadinejad's comments on gay people while in New York and the U.S. leadership's response to him. How can we, she wondered, look at each other honestly until we have equal rights for everyone in our own country?
Teresa Sayward was there with her gay son and she stated that she never had any doubt in her mind as to how she would vote on this issue. She specifically noted that, although she was a Catholic, this was an issue of civil rights and not at all about religion. She said that, while her district is very conservative (Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-1), 63 percent of the calls/letters that she's received have been positive. She also mentioned that she's still actively working to get more Republicans to support the bill and that she believes that it will pass "sooner that you'd expect."
Jeff Cook, Log Cabin's Legislative Advisor noted at the beginning of the program that the event raised $70,000 for the organization. He also importantly pointed out to the crowd that Assemblymember Sayward was the first Republican anywhere to co-sponsor marriage equality legislation. Patrick Sammon, President of Log Cabin Republicans (who was once a TV reporter in Dede Scozzafava's district) said that the organization is committed to making sure that these leaders win their elections in 2008.
Note: at the time of the vote there were actually four Republican Assemblymembers who voted for marriage, but Assemblymember Mike Spano (Yonkers) has since switched to the Democratic Party.