This week, opponents of same sex marriage and State Senate Republicans worked together on what seems likely to be, at best, a purely symbolic victory for the former and a pyrrhic victory for the latter.
Whether or not David Storobin is the ultimate victor in the 27th SD, opponents of same sex marriage have demonstrated in an unequivocal manner the toxicity of this issue, at least among Orthodox Jews.
Mr. Storobin got over 69% of the vote in the district’s overwhelmingly Orthodox portion of the 48th AD and an even higher percentage in the district’s overwhelmingly Orthodox portion of the 49th.
Some will also cite the Russian Jewish community. I’m a bit skeptical. I’m not sure that if the positions of the candidates on same sex marriage were reversed it would have affected the Russian vote one iota.
The proof of that might be another social issue where Russians are overwhelmingly liberal: abortion.
In this debate held in the Russian media, Lew Fidler, clearly having read his polling, raises the issue of choice.
How pro-choice are Russians?
Well, the first Soviet Jewish immigrant to run for office in Brooklyn as a Republican, Dr. Oleg Gutnik, is so well known for performing abortions that he was attacked during his campaign for City Council by Right to Lifers, even though his Democratic opponent was also pro-choice.
He got an overwhelming vote in the Russian community.
As Storobin himself said: Why would Russians who are registered Democrats vote for a Republican? Displaying total ignorance of not just the Russian community, but of immigrants in general, they mistakenly believed that Russians would care about abortion, taxation and "community outreach" more than they cared about electing one of their own.
The reason that the victory for same sex marriage opponents is symbolic is that even if the vote augers strength for this position outside the Orthodox community (even if not necessarily among the Russians), it does not auger any sort of victory on the issue.
I think that it is not impossible that same sex marriage opponents may get enough votes to pass a repeal bill in the State Senate, but they’ll never get enough votes to pass such a bill in the Assembly, and certainly they’ll never get enough votes in either house to override a gubernatorial veto.
The reason it is a pyrrhic victory for Senate Republicans is because the Senate GOP enabled and emboldened opponents of same sex marriage, and now the chickens are surely coming home to roost.
That they enabled them cannot be denied.
To a large extent, David Storobin’s entire campaign, and certainly its most successful element, has been about screaming the word “faygeleh”:
In what may arguably be Storobin’s least tasteful ad, Fidler is attacked for being insufficiently Jewish, with same sex marriage cited as a reason why. As Colin Campbell noted, the photo, style, and logo of the ad is basically identical to advertisements identifiably paid for by the Senate Republicans’ campaign operations.
Other Republican Senate Campaign Committee (RSCC) materials also emphasized the issue, while RSCC operatives were seem distributing other materials with cloudier origins.
In these days of Citizens United, one cannot always trace such money, but it is well worth noting that the RSCC’s largest money source, Michael Bloomberg, throws around so much money to so many recipients outside conventional campaigns that he needs a full squad of assistant District Attorneys just to keep track of the leakage.
But the idea that Joseph Hayon of “Jews for Morality” a part time tutor, found his funding on his own, is clearly not credible.
At any rate, it is clear that the hate literature, even when it was not officially part of the RSCC's campaign efforts, was carefully coordianted with them.
A visit to Storobin’s Facebook page in December is instructive::
David Storobin: If David Weprin is so opposed for merely voting in favor of gay marriage, just how much opposition will there be against Lew Fidler, City Council's #1 champion of the Gay Lobby?
In the interview, Storobin compares elected legislators enacting same sex marriage to totalitarianism in North Korea, as well to oppression under Stalin and the Nazis.
Then there was the time during the campaign (under the tight control of RSCC operatives) when Storobin accused Fidler of siding with Gays instead of Jews: “While I was doing that my opponent was organizing rallies not for the Jewish community but for the gay community,”
According to Politicker, Storobin said that Mr. Fidler held rallies for gay groups that netted one $85 million in city funding, and another rally for a different group which netted them $3 million in funding per year.
POLITICKER: Asked in an interview what he was referring to, Mr. Storobin said that he gleaned the information from YouTube and suggested The Politicker search the website for Mr. Fidler’s name. The rallies he is referring to could not be located.
As it turned out, the reason that no one could find the videos of the rallies David Storobin accuses Councilman Fidler of holding for the "Gay Community," is that no one was looking for a rally in favor of providing shelter to homeless children.
So, in essence, Storobin was advocating that children with the wrong sexual orientation should be allowed to freeze to death on our streets (after all, in the dead of winter, the dead bodies would create only minor sanitation issues). .
Let me be clear, except for Nazis, “Homosexuals” was practically the only thing the Storobin campaign talked about. One gets the feeling from reading and listening to Storobin that his somewhat nauseating public comments about LGTB people and their supporters are only the tip of the iceberg.
In Israel in 2005, the use of inflammatory language similar to that found in Mr. Storobin’s rhetoric and literature was deployed in an effort to stop a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem and probably helped to inspire the stabbing of three young men at a Gay Rights march by an unbalanced ultra-Orthodox fanatic (who coincidentally, comes from the same ultra-Orthodox Moshav as the cousin with whom Domestic Partner’s mother spent four years living with in an attic during the Holocaust).
The anti-parade activists, using buzz words like “abomination” and “degenerate,” comprised both Americans (including Rabbis who supported Storobin), and Israelis. In 2009, many in the press, both here and in Israel, blamed the use by the Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Shas Party of language similar to that which appeared in Storobin’s ads for an incident in Tel Aviv, where a masked gunman walked into a community center for gay Israeli youth and opened fire, killing two and wounding ten more.
Of course, such a thing could never happen in any Arab country, as gay community centers would have been prohibited at penalty of death. That being said, it was immediately clear that the perpetrators were Jews. While Hamas is both wildly homophobic and motivated to destroy Israel’s efforts to improve its image among liberals by appearing to be a beacon of social tolerance (which, in the context of the Middle East, it surely is) an Arab perpetrator would surely have used a suicide bomb.
[UPDATE: It turns out that the most devastating act of the RSCC was not merely stirring up dangerous hatred against LGTB people, but railing against tolerance itself.
According to people at the highest level of the Fidler campaign, the most devastating ad to appear was one in the Flatbush Jewish Journal which accused Fidler of mandating that same sex marriage be taught to six year olds.
This turned out to be about a law mandating that children be taught "tolerance."
Clearly, we can't having anyone doing anything which might prevent the assassination of Sodomites.
How was this ad paid for?
Well, in January, the RSCC gave $15,000 to CITICOM, owned by Mordy Mehlman, who owns the Flatbush Jewish Journal.]
But it is not merely in this repugnant manner in which the Senate GOP has gone too far.
They have enabled the Taliban to beat the Communists (Storobin thinks it is an act of anti-Russian bigotry for Democrats to point out that they are not Communists), and now it is time for blowback (perhaps not the best choice of words).
Opponents of same sex marriage were already mounting primary challenges to three of the four Republican State Senators who supported same sex marriage
Now, emboldened in the wake of what appears to be a Storobin victory for which they are responsible, same sex marriage opponents are coming after all four.
Dean Skelos is livid and scared, espcially since two of those Senators, Mark Grisanti and Jim Alesi, have publicly embarrassed themselves with their conduct when they are not on official business.
If there is one constituency besides Orthodox Jews where helping to pass same sex marriage is a liability, it is among voters in Republican primaries.
But if opponents of same sex marriage really are serious, four is clearly not enough.
As I noted in a June 26, 2011 piece giving credit where it was due for the passage of same sex marriage:
Dean Skelos. It was not four Republicans who delivered this bill; it was at least seventeen. In order to get to the floor and pass, the bill had to get through the GOP conference. There may have been four votes who actually wanted the bill to pass (I suspect there were more), but others had to agree as well. Some just thought it would look bad not to have a vote. Others just wanted to get the issue over with once and for all. Some might have been motivated by promises yet to be disclosed. Some might have thought that next time, they might not be able to negotiate the religious carve out they got in this bill (perhaps the reason the Roman Catholic Church took such a poorly executed swan dive). The important thing is they could have stopped a vote, and they did not.
To put this in further perspective, let me note what I said on December 3, 2009 about the prior failure of the bill to pass:
Some gay activists are now busy outing an allegedly gay State Senator who voted against marital equality. This has proven problematic in that though there have been many who have been “reamed” by the character in question, most of that activity seems to have taken place in a political context rather than a “romantic” one.
And even among those who’ve engaged in “romantic” liaisons with the pol in question, there is apparently not one person who isn’t too embarrassed to admit to it.
And that was before he cast his vote.
By my count, there are at least three gay members of the Senate who voted against expanding their own rights, possibly because they themselves would never have had the opportunity to use them.
As one wag told me, “we’ve gone from three men in a room to three men in a closet.”
Three men in a closet.
I will not name names, because I do not have the moral standing to do so, and because even though they may deserve it, I still find it distasteful. But they know who they are. They are cowards, whose lust for power apparently exceeds their power for lust. Cowards who are amigos in Lark Street bars, but enemies on the Senate floor. Cowards who tremble in secret at the thought of doing the right thing, and then tremble publicly in the act of doing the wrong one. Cowards who gladly take the Greek position, but bear no gifts.
But it is no longer three Senators in a closet; it is at least 13 men and women—all the Republican State Senators who voted yes in the conference to the bill coming to the floor, and then no on the actual vote they enabled.
Upon information and belief, one of those Senators is both gay and a member (perhaps not the best choice of words) of the leadership.
That leadership must be held accountable for the despicable and dangerous campaign of hatred the RSCC ran in Brooklyn.
Who in the LGTB community is going to come forward and out the despicable perpetrators of this hate propaganda?
Hopefully, we will not have to wait for someone to die before the guilty are held accountable.