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National Organization for Marriage Sends a Message to New York State GOP Legislators: "Vote for Gay Marriage and We Will Fund a Primary Challenge"

(WASHINGTON) In the wake of New York Governor David Paterson’s call for a special legislative session, part of which he hopes will address gay marriage; the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Executive Director Brian Brown reiterated its plans to build a $500,000 war chest to fund a primary challenge to any Republican senator who votes for gay marriage.

"There is no Republican Senate district in New York where the majority of people support gay marriage. Maine has made that very clear,” said Brian Brown. "The GOP should learn from Dede Scozzafava's experience: voting for gay marriage does not pay."

Throughout her congressional campaign, conservatives from all over the country fought hard against the election of NY Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava due to her mild views on abortion rights and gay marriage. Scozzafava was running for New York's 23rd Congressional District. The weekend before the election, Scozzafava quit the race and backed Democrat Bill Owens after supporters of conservative Republican candidate Doug Hoffman accused her of being too liberal for the largely Republican district. Owens won the election with a 4% margin.

50 percent of voters who abandoned Dede Scozzafava to vote for Doug Hoffman said that Dede's vote for gay marriage was a significant factor, according to a NOM poll of voters in NY-23, released on Election Day.

Meanwhile, the New York State Senate today delayed a highly anticipated vote on same-sex marriage. Republicans and Democrats said that as of mid-day, the measure was short the 32 votes necessary for approval – five Democrats remained either opposed or non-committed meaning that Republican votes were needed to secure passage of the marriage equality legislation.

Democrats currently have a 32-20 majority in the New York State Senate.

The Senate’s actions followed Paterson’s speech before a joint session of the New York legislature Monday, in which he addressed the state’s budget issues and called for action on gay marriage legislation before Friday.

“[Gay Marriage] is an issue that in many ways speaks to the very foundation of our democracy,” Paterson stated in the rare mid-week address. “I would like it addressed as immediately as possible, because justice delayed is justice denied.”

The same-sex marriage bill passed the New York Assembly in May and is awaiting approval by the state Senate before going to Paterson to be signed into law. Paterson has on many occasions announced his support for the legislation.

If passed, the legislation would make New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage following Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Same sex marriage was briefly allowed in California until Proposition 8 passed in November 2008.

Since its inception in July 2007, the NOM has raised more than $8 million in its efforts to defend marriage, including $1.8 million for the Prop. 8 battle in California and $2.6 million for a measure to reject same-sex marriage in Maine.