Conservative Republicans bankrolling gay marriage campaign in New York

(Image: Kellie Parker/Flickr)

A funny thing is happening on the way to the altar, at least in New York. The bulk of the money to finance a campaign to legalize gay marriage in the state is coming from conservative wealthy Republicans. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg is known to have kicked in at least $100,000.

The Colorado Independent in the past has drawn attention to the fact that Barbara Bush has cut a video supporting the measure. Turns out, though that GOP support for freedom and liberty in New York could be more than a dog bits man sort of story. It could be the story.

From Saturday’s New York Times:

As gay rights advocates intensify their campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, the bulk of their money is coming from an unexpected source: a group of conservative financiers and wealthy donors to the Republican Party, most of whom are known for bankrolling right-leaning candidates and causes.

Their behind-the-scenes financial support — about $1 million in donations, delivered in recent weeks to a new coalition of gay rights organizations — could alter the political calculus of Albany lawmakers, especially the Republican state senators in whose hands the fate of gay marriage rests.

The donors represent some of New York’s wealthiest and most politically active figures and include Paul E. Singer, a hedge fund manager and top-tier Republican donor, as well as two other financiers, Steven A. Cohen and Clifford S. Asness.

In Colorado, where voters overwhelming support gay rights and even young Republicans have come out strongly in support of civil unions, Republicans in the legislature would not allow the matter to even be discussed on the floor.

So, why are rich Republican New Yorkers voting so heavily with their pocketbooks on this issue? They say it is a basic matter of freedom, what some might call a core Republican value:

The newly recruited donors argue that permitting same-sex marriage is consistent with conservative principles of personal liberty and small government.

“I’m a pretty straight-down-the-line small-government guy,” said Mr. Asness, who described himself as a libertarian who favored less government intrusion in both markets and personal affairs. Mr. Asness, a frequent Republican donor, has praised Tea Party activists on his blog and last year attended a conference of right-leaning donors held by Charles and David Koch, among the leading conservative philanthropists in the nation.

“This is an issue of basic freedom,” Mr. Asness said.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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