Guest Blogger

Fight Back New York: There Are Consequences

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 30, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Bill Stachowski, Fight Back New York, gay marriage, Hiram Monserrate, marriage equality, New York Senate, NOM

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Greg Rae got his start on political campaigns by taking over as tech lead for the No On 8 campaign. Since then, he has continued to advise organizations on online fundraising and outreach. He currently serves as treasurer of Fight Back New York, a Political Action Committee dedicated to removing from office New York State Senators who voted against marriage equality.

Thumbnail image for Greg Rae.jpgI'm now a New Yorker, but I grew up in California. I came out in 2000. That's the year California's Proposition 22 was on the ballot. The less well-known precursor to Prop 8, it had the same effect: to define marriage as an exclusionary institution, saying that the only marriages to be recognized would be those between a man and a woman.

In 2008, after Prop 22 was found unconstitutional, those who wanted to put discrimination into the law only had the option to put it directly into California's constitution. By then I had already been living in New York for years, but I remembered what had happened back in 2000.

I won't bother asking where everyone else was in 2008 when the campaign needed more help. I know exactly where people were, right where I was in 2000: "There's no way this can happen in California."

But the truth of the matter is that there are large special interests out there intent on enshrining discrimination in the law.

Not only that, but much of the money funding these campaigns comes from organizations whose members don't always agree with these messages.

When the New York State Senate voted against marriage equality last December, I talked with a lot of people about consequences. What were the consequences for the Democrats and Republicans who voted against my rights? Some angry New Yorkers, phone calls, lobbying visits, sure. But had a politician who ever voted against gay rights ever really been held politically accountable? What would that look like?

Those are exactly the questions I aimed to answer when I helped start Fight Back New York earlier this year. We started Fight Back New York with only one goal: defeat New York state senators who voted against marriage equality. Show them there are harsh consequences: they'll lose their seats. We set out to prove that there are consequences first in March's special election. Marriage no-voter Hiram Monserrate lost his reelection, in part thanks to Fight Back New York.

In the recent primary election, we demonstrated those consequences again: our target Bill Stachowski lost his primary. And it was clear during his campaign that he was scared of us: Stachowski called Fight Back New York out in a robocall.

Now that we're entering the general election, NOM is now setting its sights on New York. NOM knows what I know: New York is on the front lines of the marriage fight this year. NOM has just filed a lawsuit against the state of New York in attempts to gain special status, the ability to spend unregulated, undisclosed, large amounts of money in key senate races.

It's time to send a clear message to politicians everywhere, New York and beyond: there are consequences to voting against equality. Unlike our opponents, who repeatedly try to hide where their money is coming from, Fight Back New York discloses who all of its donors are in public campaign filings. We're not taking money from a small number of well-heeled organizations to fund this campaign. We're getting donations from real people, from voters.

Vote at the ballot box, and vote with your dollars. Let's show NOM, let's show anti-gay politicians across the country, let's tell everyone: Vote against us, and suffer the consequences.

I don't want another election year to go by like 2008. One of the most powerful ways to let these anti-gay politicians know there's consequences is to show them our strength in numbers. Every person who donates to Fight Back New York is listed on our official election reports. Let's show them our power. Donate $5 to Fight Back New York today. Join me in telling politicians, "There are consequences when you vote against me."

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I know it's politics, but it's sad that Fight Back is crowing about Statchowski when the real big fish was Ruben Diaz, Sr. It's depressing to see such a big figure in the New York State Democratic party be one of the most outspoken voices against gay rights in our state.

I will continue to donate money to Fight Back NY, but I have really recently begun to get really pessimistic about the chance of real gay equality in the near future.

The "big fish" in anti-LGBT anything in New York is indeed Ruben Diaz, who is now demanding a "hispanic chairmanship" for a new member of the Senate, despite the gent lacking seniority. The "or else " attatched to this is clearly a new threat to march over to the Republcans again at a time when there is a possibility that Palidino/Edwards may well win, though their numbers are not great now. Paladino taps into anger, prejudice, hatred and fear with incredible skill, perhaps the best at this since some of the first post-Reconstruction Democrats in the US South.

I think you should wait until after November to brag about accomplishments. Statchowski was defeated by Kennedy and he is likely to be defeated by the Republican Quinn. That wouldn't indicate NO gain.

Instead of "punishing" people with your so-called "consequences," how about trying to get enough gay-friendly candidates. Most of NY (including the media) didn't credit FightBack for Satachowski's loss, they mostly consider it "anti-Albany."

Whether or not FightBack is actually effective depends on how many LGBT-favorable NY Senators we have in November, not pretending you punished a Democrat that was already going to lose the Primary.

Let's score the effectiveness of FightBack on November 3rd. That's what counts.

As a straight ally I am very excited to see Greg and Fight Back NY take on politicians who vote against equality. When we don't have equality for all, we don't have equality for anyone. We have to stop discrimination now, and groups like Fight Back NY can make a difference if we support them!

I won't bother asking where everyone else was in 2008 when the campaign needed more help.

I know where I was in 2008: Campaigning in Queens for Joe Addabbo, who was being backed by Gill Action Fund, the same folks behind Fight Back New York. Imagine my anger when the newly elected Senator Addabbo voted AGAINST marriage equality.

I only hope that Gill/Fight Back NY are doing a more thorough job vetting their candidates than they did last cycle.

Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed Addabo. Now they're all going after the bastards who lied. That's a good thing. We should go after every one of the liars.

But, they're ALL "liars," both sides. That is politics.

It's better to replace someone, than simply try to embarrass or punish them. Maybe these resources should have been put into electing new people - replacements. THAT would make sense.

"Fighting back" isn't the same as "winning."