On Friday, New York became the country's most populous state to legalize same sex marriage, and only the second to do so legislatively after Vermont. After the New York state senate, controlled by Republicans, seemed to hit a logjam, news broke unexpectedly on Friday of this great stride of equality in New York. What wasn't very well publicized though is the roll of Wall Street in support of same sex marriages. The new York Times has the kicker:
But as The New York Times reported over the weekend, a crucial fount of support came from a seemingly unusual source: Wall Street donors known in large part for conservative leanings.For good or for ill (mostly for ill, but in this instance, evidently, for good) money still talks a lot in politics. Democrats voted for marriage because it's the right thing to do. But Republicans could not be counted on to do such things. They would only do so after ensuring that a vote in favor of same sex marriage won't cost them at the campaign coffers. The fear of course was both that money would dry up from conservative grassroots donors, and also that there may be primary challenges to these Senators. They feared things like this: from the National Organization for Homophobia (err, "National Organization for Marriage):
According to The Times, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sought the backing of three financiers: Paul E. Singer, the founder of Elliott Management and an ardent Republican donor; Clifford S. Asness, the head of the quant fund AQR Capital; and Daniel S. Loeb, the leader of Third Point.
The National Organization for Marriage’s president, Brian Brown doubled his previous pledge, promising to commit "at least $2 million" in elections in 2012 to make sure Republicans understand that voting for gay marriage has consequences:But you know what the funny part is? The Tea Party is very much in line with NOM's position. They are still very worried about the "homosexual agenda" and how it's "destroying America." What did the New York Republicans need to insulate themselves from the crazies at NOM? More money.
“The Republican party has torn up its contract with the voters who trusted them in order to facilitate Andrew Cuomo’s bid to be president of the U.S. Selling out your principles to get elected is wrong. Selling out your principles to get the other guy elected is just plain dumb.
But the donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure.I have some gratitude to these Wall Streeters for making this happen. In this instance, they chose the right side of history. And these people have not only convinced Republicans in New York to vote for same sex marriage, they have also funded the legal challenge to California's Proposition 8.
But this does produce a very good chuckle for me when I think about just how easily Wall Street just steamrolled the Tea Party in this instance. What didn't the Teabaggers do for Wall Street? They worked day and night to put Wall Street's handmaidens into power, they gave money, they volunteered, they showed up to crazy Glenn Beck rallies. But the Republican marching orders, ultimately, come from Wall Street, not your Tea Party HQ. Aww. Sorry.
And if that's true, what does that mean for the debt limit, which Wall Street wants raised (and raise it we must)? Just what, my dear Teabaggers, do you think John Boehner is going to do? Hmm? No wonder Eric Cantor is so damn frustrated that Democrats are not letting them use the debt limit issue to shatter America's social compact. Cantor knows as well as any Republican in DC is that despite their dog and pony show, they will have to raise the debt limit. Do I put it past them to turn the crazy up to 11? No, but it's probably a pretty safe bet that they won't cross Wall Street.