Much has been made this election season of the decision by four New York State Senators to vote in favor of the Same Sex Marriage Act of 2011. A Daily Freeman article of Thursday 25 October again focuses on the controversy, and State Senator Steven Saland’s fight because of it.
I do not vote for or against a candidate based on one issue alone. I feel that a voter must decide on the entire balance of a candidate’s positions. But, whether you cast your vote for him or one of his opponents, you must admit Saland displayed a real “Profile in Courage” when he cast his same-sex marriage vote.
All candidates say they will stand up to party leadership or radical extremist groups to do the right thing, but how often do the really do that? They say they will worry about service to all the people in their districts, and not about reelection. It’s tough, though, when your job is on the line. One extreme group, or another powerful lobbyist might take an interest in defeating you. It’s exactly the kind of pressure that allows a Grover Norquist to hang his Sword of Damacles over 95% of Republican heads Congress.
That is the same kind of challenge that Steven Saland faces now. In a September 15 New York Times article, Brian S. Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, said, “I think it’s the clearest example of the fact that if you are a Republican and you vote for gay marriage, this is a career-ending move.”
Somehow, in all of this, we’ve forgotten the simple fact that acts of political courage have broken long-standing deadlocks in what has been known as “America’s most dysfunctional State Legislature”.
I might or might not agree with his vote, but I can and do admire the spine it took to make it. If every legislator acted as Steven Saland did in this past term, we would have one of the most productive State Legislatures in the country.