New York’s top Republican attends Log Cabin fundraiser
State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos [R-Rockville Centre] was among several GOP lawmakers who attended a Log Cabin Republicans fundraiser in the East Village on Sept. 16.
Skelos, who made his first public appearance in front of a gay audience since he succeeded Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno [R-Saratoga Springs] in June, joined state Sen. John Flanagan [R-East Northport], Assemblyman Joel Miller [R-Poughkeepsie] and other Republican lawmakers and candidates. He reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage, but stressed he feels basic GOP principles will continue to unite Republicans.
"In life, we all have differences of opinion, but as Republicans we all understand... we do what’s appropriate to control taxes [and] control spending," Skelos said.
A number of Skelos’ legislative colleagues in attendance openly disagreed with his opposition to gay and lesbian nuptials.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward [R-Willsboro] recalled the impassioned speech she gave before the Democrat-controlled Assembly passed a bill to extend marriage to same-sex couples in June 2007. She said her vote reflected traditional GOP values.
"A vote for marriage is a very Republican and conservative one," Sayward said. "We believe government should stay out of people’s lives and let them live in quiet dignity."
Miller, who also supports the bill, agreed.
"We can’t go half way," he said. "You have to do it all the way."
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey [R-Peru] voted against the bill, but she said a meeting with her lesbian niece and nearly 20 other constituents in her conservative North Country district last summer sparked a change of heart. Duprey announced she plans to support the bill in the legislature next year.
"They spoke about their children," she said. "They spoke about their children and their relationships and the concerns they have about them."
The GOP maintains a one-seat majority in the state Senate, and political observers point to a likely Democratic takeover this November. The fundraiser raised $58,000 to support Republican incumbents and candidates in November.
Log Cabin raised $58,000 to support Republican incumbents and candidates who back both marriage for same-sex couples and the Dignity in All School Act in Albany.
The organization, however, continues to face sometimes scathing criticism from a number of gay Democrats and activists. This opposition only increased after Log Cabin Republican executive director Patrick Sammon announced his group’s endorsement of John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin earlier this month at the Republican National Convention.
Openly gay state Senate candidate John Chromczak [R-Financial District] conceded concern over Palin’s socially conservative record in Alaska. He added his decision to back the ticket goes far beyond LGBT issues.
"John McCain is well more in tune to aspects of national security than Barack Obama," Chromczak said.
Log Cabin Republicans of New York legislative adviser Jeff Cook remained confident gay Republicans will continue to have an impact in both Albany and Washington in November and after the election.
"[We] are on the front lines of making a difference in the lives of gays and lesbians across New York State and around the country," he said.