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Posted: September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

NYC: Jewish Democrat Loses To Catholic Republican In Special Weiner Race

by David Badash on September 14, 2011

in Discrimination,Marriage,News,Politics,Religion

Post image for NYC: Jewish Democrat Loses To Catholic Republican In Special Weiner Race
In a hotly-​fought battle by everyone — except the actual candidates — Jewish Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin lost to Roman Catholic retired media executive Robert Turner in a special election to fill the House seat vacated by now former Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned amid a sex scandal. The AP called the vote just minutes before midnight Tuesday for Turner, 53%-47%. The New York City district, NY-​9, is populated by a strong Jewish and Latino constituency.

The race was hotly contested, but both Weprin and Turner were lackluster and pawns in a game of homophobic, racist, and religious bigotry that had nothing to do with the issues the winner, now, Turner, will face as a Congressman.

In a surprising turn of events, fueled many say by Maggie Gallagher’s NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, a group of 40 Rabbis came out in support of Turner, claiming that a vote for Weprin violated Jewish law, as the Orthodox Democrat had voted in favor of New York’s same-​sex marriage bill that became law earlier this summer. In point of fact, it appears the Rabbis act is a violation of IRS law, and should be investigated immediately.

READ: NY Same-​Sex Marriage: Why NOM’s 10,000 Protesters Lie Is So Embarrassing

Pundits will look at this race and decide it represents the shape of things to come, and call it a referendum on:

  • President Obama
  • Same-​sex marriage
  • Weiner’s sex scandal
  • The economy
  • Israel
  • The weather

Julie Bolcer at The Advocate put it best:

“Despite decades of Democratic control in the district, David Weprin lost a special congressional election in New York that hinged on the economy and dissatisfaction with national politics. The shocking result means that voters will continue to hear about same-​sex marriage, even if evidence suggests the issue played no significant role in the race.”

“The upset appears likely to raise questions about the potential for marriage equality support to pose a political liability, and also about the willingness of opponents to press the issue even when polling shows a majority of voters preoccupied with other concerns. While some answers remain in flux just hours after the election, the initial analysis suggests that discussions about marriage equality will persist, so long as opponents have anything to do with it.”

“They have a microphone and a good loudspeaker and they will claim that they had an impact,” said Ken Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College, about the contribution of marriage equality opponents. “Absent any systemic exit polling, I think there will be no hard evidence to support that claim. It just flies in the face of everything we know about voting to think that views on marriage equality would trump votes on the issue of the economy when there is a high level of unemployment.”

Remember too that former New York City iconic mayor Ed Koch, also Jewish, also a Democrat, and, by many accounts — though neither acknowledged nor denied — gay, came out in support of Turner. So did the virulently homophobic New York State Senator and Reverend Rubén Díaz, who said he “thanks God” for giving him the opportunity to record robocalls for Turner, via his partners in hate, NOM, the National Organization For Marriage.

“In the robo-​call, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage and recorded in Spanish, Diaz denounces Weprin for his vote for same-​sex marriage in June of this year,” reports The Weekly Standard.

“‘David Weprin betrayed New York families when he voted to impose same sex marriage’, Diaz says, according to a translation. ‘Weprin voted to impose gay marriage against the wishes of our community. Worse, he refused to allow the people of New York to decide this issue by allowing us to vote on marriage, as voters in 31 other states have been able to do. Our families face terrible consequences because of David Weprin. Join me, Democratic state senator Ruben Diaz, in supporting Bob Turner for Congress on September 13′.”

The Standard adds, “A poll released Sunday night by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed that a plurality of voters in the district oppose same-​sex marriage – 45% say it should be illegal, 41% say legal, and 14% aren’t sure. While 29% of all likely voters in the district said the issue of same-​sex marriage is ‘very important’ in ‘deciding who to vote for for Congress,’ 38% of Hispanic voters said the issue is ‘very important’ to them.”

Village Voicewriter and Brooklyn resident Steven Thrasher — whose moniker is remarkably appropriate — writes, “Politicians who are on the fence about coming out for marriage equality will undoubtedly take note of NOM’s success with a seat which should have been a cakewalk for the Democrats.“Wiser heads than ours can probably argue that there were larger forces at play than simply marriage equality.“Still, judging from the stream in our (extremely) little slice of the twitterverse, NY-​9 was all about gay marriage, Weprin’s vote, and NOM’s vow to take him on.“Lost on Thrasher is a highly-​religious district who felt betrayed by one of their own members showing his own member on the Internet with six different women, and denying it for as long as he possibly could uphold the ruse.

Adam Lisberg writing in City Hall News says, “a low-​profile campaign among Orthodox Jews aims to make it about same-​sex marriage.

“The Family Research Council is raising money off Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin’s vote to legalize it. The National Organization for Marriage paid for 30,000 robocalls to Jewish homes supporting his opponent, Republican Bob Turner. And online, Weprin’s vote for same-​sex marriage has been portrayed as a vote against God – even though Weprin is himself an Orthodox Jew.

“David Weprin defied Jewish law and betrayed our values,” said Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein in the robocall. “David Weprin abandoned Jewish teaching in New York State. It’s time for us to abandon David Weprin.”

“After the robocall went out, Wallerstein told Vos iz Neias that he hadn’t even met Turner, but saw an opportunity to push an anti-​gay marriage message.

“Turner has not made New York’s gay nuptials a campaign issue, though he has benefited from those who have done so. Still, his most prominent early supporter – former mayor Ed Koch – supports same-​sex marriage and says the race is about Israel and Obama, no matter what social conservatives say.”

Duncan Osborne in Gay City News added,

Three gay political groups, the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens, the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, and the Stonewall Democrats, held a fundraiser for Weprin, and Lambda solicited volunteer support for the candidate. Erin Drinkwater, a Lambda vice president, told Gay City News, “Going into 2012, it would be a huge problem to give the GOP or Tea Party any momentum.”In an op ed published online at gaycitynews​.com, titled “The Race in the 9th Is About The Economy –– Not Israel or Gay Marriage,” Matthew McMorrow, Lambda’s co-​president, wrote that Koch’s focus on Israel and NOM’s effort to make Weprin’s marriage vote an issue were “red herrings.”“If Brooklyn and Queens voters want to use this race to send a real message, let it be a rebuke of the radical and reckless Republican members of Congress who have damaged our nation’s credit rating, refused to compromise, and advocated for the dismantling of our nation’s services… without entertaining even the most modest proposals to increase revenue or to implement fairness in the tax code,” McMorrow wrote, voicing familiar Democratic Party arguments.

NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, reportedly invested $75,000 in this election, while HRC invested a paltry $5,000, perhaps because NY-​9 as a district will disappear due to redistricting.
The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry just after noon Tuesday noted,

It’s not surprising that virulently anti-​gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage are arguing that the freedom to marry has played some sort of noteworthy role in the Weprin-​Turner race for New York’s Ninth Congressional District. Whoever wins tonight, marriage equality did not play an influential, even modest, role in the outcome of this special election. What people are focused on are jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

Here are some facts:

• ‘Gay marriage’ doesn’t show up in the polling. Siena’s poll conducted September 6 – 8 asked, which would you say was the single most important factor in your decision to vote for [candidate name]? The top concern, according to respondents, was the economy (32%), followed by entitlements like Social Security (28%), a candidate’s political party (18%), and position on Israel (7%).

• Turner himself has consistently emphasized how marriage equality is not an issue in the race. He told the New York Daily News, “The gay marriage issue is closed, [sic] it’s New York state law. I don’t see any reason to be using this as a campaign issue.” Last week, the Turner camp issued this statement: “Queens and Brooklyn voters of all political parties are sending a terse telegram to President Obama that they are unhappy with his economic agenda and his hostile stance toward Israel.”

• Prior to this race, the pro-​marriage equality incumbent continued to get re-​elected. Anthony Weiner served his constituents for 12 years and was a much more outspoken advocate of marriage equality than Weprin has been.

• Statewide, polls consistently and incontrovertibly show a majority of New Yorkers (58%) support marriage equality – even after the vote. NY1-​YNN-​Marist survey conducted in August — well after the law went into effect this summer — registered 63 percent of adults who don’t want the law overturned.

The National Organization for Marriage has aggressively tried to infuse its fringe agenda into the NY-​9 race. NOM is a highly secretive organization thought to funnel money from a small group of extreme donors to anti-​gay causes. It is still reeling from its big loss in the Empire State this summer. But no matter who wins tonight, tomorrow a strong and decisive majority of New Yorkers will continue to support the freedom to marry, just as a majority of the American public does.

So, it’s a win essentially in name only, but it’s certainly an emotional win for Maggie Gallagher and her band of merry hating homophobes.

Bring on Maggie and Brian’s fundraising emails! How long should we give them?


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