Can a Vote for Gay Marriage Be Corrupt?

Yesterday, on the way to an Intelligence Squared debate about campaign finance regulation, I happened to read a story about Roy McDonald, one of four Republican state senators who last year voted for the bill that legalized gay marriage in New York. McDonald did so only after receiving assurances from gay rights activists who promised to help counter the expected backlash by raising money for his re-election campaign. The New York Times reports that they delivered on that promise:

New York was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage with the support of a Republican-controlled legislative chamber, and gay-rights advocates, who have showered Mr. McDonald with campaign contributions, fear that his defeat would discourage Republican legislators in other statehouses from bucking their party to support same-sex marriage....

The race between Mr. McDonald and [Kathleen] Marchione [McDonald's opponent in today's primary] is the most expensive legislative primary in New York this year. Mr. McDonald has raised more than $926,000 in this campaign cycle, thanks in part to help from supporters of same-sex marriage, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who donated $10,300. Ms. Marchione, by contrast, has raised more than $180,000.

While McDonald says he voted his conscience, Marchione argues that he betrayed voters by changing his position on gay marriage, essentially selling his vote for campaign cash. The question I posed to the audience at last night's debate (which was held at the Kaufman Center in Manhattan): Is McDonald's vote an example of the corruption that campaign finance regulations are aimed at curtailing? The average progressive, I think, would say no: Supporters of gay marriage are simply expressing their gratitude to McDonald and showing that legislators can benefit politically by doing the right thing. But what McDonald did arguably amounted to a quid pro quo arrangement in which he agreed to support a particular bill in exchange for campaign contributions. In form it is no different from voting against a cigarette tax hike based on promises of donations from tobacco executives or voting against environmental regulations in anticipation of support from Archer Daniels Midland's political action committee. The only difference is that, from a progressive perspective, McDonald voted the right way. 

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  • sarcasmic||

    The only difference is that, from a progressive perspective, McDonald voted the right way.

    Exactly. Principles are for losers.

  • o3||

    everyone knows we progs care many much MOARS than heartless wingnutz...plus single babes !11!!1!!1

  • ||

    from a progressive perspective

    Umm isn't it also a libertarian perspective?

  • sarcasmic||

    Depends on which libertarian you ask.

  • Randian||

    He said "I'll change my vote if the interest groups will insulate me from the controversy"

    He did. They did.

    BFD.

  • sarcasmic||

    legalized gay marriage

    Does that mean that all those poor gay couples who were in jail for the crime of marriage will finally be released?

  • ||

    What a bone-crushingly stupid strawman. Even a closeted self-hater like yourself should be able to do better than this.

  • sarcasmic||

    In a free country you are free to do that which is not prohibited.

    If gay marriage is being legalized, then that means it must have been prohibited.

    Therefor there must exist people who were jailed for violating this prohibition.

    Right?

  • ||

    What?

  • o3||

    he's trolling his own sub-thread

  • A Serious Man||

    I agree to the extent that this is no where near as egregious as Jim Crow. That so many liberals make that comparison pisses me off to no end.

  • tarran||

    OK, Sarcasmic, Suicide is against the law. Show me the people in jail for committing suicide.

    The law requires the president to do a bunch of stuff.

    Show me the presidents jailed for doing those things.

  • ||

    um, no

    ASSISTING suicide is against the law in most jurisdictions, although some states allow it under certain conditions

    suicide is NOT against the law in any state i am aware of

    please feel free to cite any law that says otherwise, and I will gladly admit error

    again, SUICIDE IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW

    so, your analogy fails

    (cops, medics, etc.) intervene in cases of suicide in progress etc. based upon community caretaking issues

    but it does not follow that suicide is against the law

    if suicide was against the law, then ATTEMPT to commit suicide would be, too

    under the model penal code, attempt to commit a crime generally just bumps the offense down one notch

    iow, if suicide was a C felony, then attempt to commit would be a D felony

    but since suicide is not against the law, attempt isn;t either

    sorry. fail

  • R C Dean||

    Suicide and attempted suicide are not illegal in Texas.

    Weirdly, though, it is illegal to assist another to commit or attempt suicide.

    I wonder if there is anything else that it is perfectly legal to do, but illegal to aid another in doing?

  • fried wylie||

    I wonder if there is anything else that it is perfectly legal to do, but illegal to aid another in doing?

    Adopting the paleo diet.

  • R C Dean||

    Nicely played, fried.

  • Hyperion||

    What about say, drinking cyanide or anti-freeze and trying to kill yourself. Is that illegal?

  • ||

    am i missing a joke somewhere?

    dood. attempting or successfully committing suicide is not illegal.

    that's kind of the point i made.

    fwiw, i've found it interesting that out of all the attempts i've seen involving pills and other drugs, the only successful DRUG suicides i've been to involve tylenol.

    fwiw, i would imagine drinking anti-freeze to be a painful way to go. not sure about cyanide.

    maybe there is some kind of federal law against using anti-freeze in a manner not consistent with label use? :)

    seriously, there is a federal law that criminalize everything, so...

  • Hyperion||

    Ok, then, Dunphy. It is not a joke, but I guess you are missing something.

    My point is that if you can kill yourself with poison, but you can't smoke pot, for your own protection, because the state cares so much about you, do you find that ironic, or not?

    I think you are anti WOD, so maybe you get it.

  • ||

    oh. i am totally anti-wod. i get it

    let's recap.

    case law

    you have a right, penumbras and emanations and all that shit, under the constitution to control your body. heck, you can even control ANOTHER body inside it... the fetus.

    that's fine

    it's like a constitutional right and shit

    but then you don't have the right to put whatever you want into your bloodstream. like drugs. that's bad, mmkay.

    and somehow the constitution protects your right to "privacy" about aborting fetus' but not about smoking pot

    got it

    and it protects the right to privacy about who you can schtup (lawrence v. texas)

    it's completely inconsistent, statist hogwash

    if you have the stomach for it, i suggest reading roe v. wade. i'm pro choice btw. but the twisted convoluted logic makes me ill

    note also, lawrence says you can schtup who you want, but if you want somebody to pay you for it, that's illegal

    you can perform on camera for money, otoh, and get paid to schtup.

    yea, THAT makes sense

  • ||

    In a free country you are free to do that which is not prohibited.

    Right. What does that have to do with America?

  • Hyperion||

    Where is this fabled free country? I must go there.

  • ||

    In a free country you are free to do that which is not prohibited.

    When you find one of those free countries please post about it.

    I would greatly like to move to one.

  • sarcasmic||

    a closeted self-hater like yourself

    Where did you get the impression that I'm Jewish?

  • ||

    All Jews are fags, right? And all fags are Jews, if I remember my science classes right.

  • tarran||

    No,

    Jews drink the blood of gentile children, in the manner of vampires.

    Fags smoke the penises of manly men, in the manner of greek boys.

  • ||

    What about those Hasidic mohels that suck the blood from the little wieners after they skin them? They must be fag Jew vampires, but I thought that was a contradiction in terms.

  • WTF||

    fag Jew vampires

    Band name?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    They're hipster douches dressed in skinny, aren't they.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    skinny *jeans*, aren't they.

  • WTF||

    Yes, with payos and black hats.

  • R C Dean||

    Those are called "yarmulkes", W.

  • WTF||

    No, I mean the hats the Hasidim wear.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The phrase to legalize gay marriage is convenient but not exactly accurate.

    If the government issued pedestrian licenses would libertarians feel comfortable saying they legalized walking? You can still walk without the license, you just don't get recognized by the government as a walker, and get all the subsidies that come with that.

  • ||

    Sometimes you say the most retarded things. These aren't matters of criminal law, but civil law. Gay marriage isn't legal in some states precisely because they aren't considered valid by the state. Jaywalking, meanwhile, IS a criminal offense that you can be arrested for. The distinction between criminal and civil doesn't mean gay marriage is legal. Having your marriage considered invalid can, and does, affect a whole host of legal issues.

  • ||

    Does that mean that all those poor gay couples who were in jail for the crime of marriage will finally be released?

    What a retarded thing to say. Not all laws are criminal laws. This is a matter of civil law, which doesn't mean two people of the same sex can get married if the state forbids/doesn't approve of it (though those are two different things, they are functionally the same; same sex couplescan't marry).
  • Ptah-Hotep||

    did so only after receiving assurances from gay rights activists who promised to help counter the expected backlash by raising money for his re-election campaign.

    Doesn't this meet the diffinition of bribery?

    bribery n. the crime of giving or taking money or some other valuable item in order to influence a public official (any governmental employee) in the performance of his/her duties.

  • A Serious Man||

    Sounds like par for the course for most legislators.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    McDonald did so only after receiving assurances from gay rights activists who promised to help counter the expected backlash by raising money for his re-election campaign.

    So absent those promises he would have voted against the bill? He's guilty of being an asshole. He fits right in to any legislature.

  • BarryD||

    Like damn near every vote for or against gay marriage (or even impotent pandering like Obama's conversion experience earlier this year) isn't driven by constituent/donor support/threats...

    Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but even the "principled" legislators just happen to come from districts where the constituency just happens to really favor or really oppose gay marriage, and donate accordingly.

  • R C Dean||

    What's unusual about this case is he changed his position/vote after being promised campaign donations. That's actually pretty unusual, in my experience. People mostly donate to people who have been voting the way they want.

    I wonder, though, if this wasn't more in the nature of extortion "I get a lot of donations from people opposed to gay marriage. I will continue to vote that way unless and until youse guys pony up."

  • Paul.||

    Considering Obama "evolved" on gay marriage a few months before the elections to close the poll gap, it's corruption all the way down.

    Worked for Obama, worked for this guy. As far as I'm concerned, nothing to see here, move along.

  • fried wylie||

    People mostly donate to people who have been voting the way they want.

    Which works great, except for stuff where the majority of representatives HAVE NEVER voted the way those donors want.

    People that might make donations to a candidate/rep in order to achieve change to laws related to interests such as gay marriage or recreational drug use make the sensible decision that there are better ways to waste their money.

  • T o n y||

    In a pure system legislators should only have to consider constituents' wishes and their own conscience and judgment. How much money a candidate can raise does signify his level of support and legitimacy to a degree, but it is a highly imperfect signifier. The point of democracy is that people get an equal say in policy, and when money enters the equation, those with more money are more equal, and that is contrary to the point of democracy.

  • sarcasmic||

    I propose we have a vote to decide whether or not to execute Tony for criminal stupidity.

    I'll start.

    Aye!

  • WTF||

    Aye! Seconded!

  • Hyperion||

    I vote nay and propose a change to the referendum.

    We send Tony to a remote island inhabited only by other progressives. There the progressives will have to figure out how to use their available resources and build a functioning society.

    There will be no capitalists allowed on the island. The grand experiment shall begin. Finally, socialism in it's pure form, implemented by the one true chosen people, who will make it work this time.

  • Hyperion||

    And I want this taped live and televised.

  • sarcasmic||

    Dead people can't be pardoned or paroled.

  • Hyperion||

    I want to give the proglodytes to finally prove that socialism works. But not in the country where I live. Actually, not on the same planet that I live, but an island surrounded by nuke mines would do.

  • sarcasmic||

    History is littered with failed instances of socialism. Even in this country back in 1620. Thing is, these people won't learn. They just won't.
    To try to prove to them that socialism doesn't work is to fail before you begin.

  • Hyperion||

    But in the scenario that I provide, who are they going to blame? There won't be any obstructionist party of NO to blame. Just equality and free stuff for everyone. It will be paradise, which is why I want it televised. Everyone needs to see this utopian wonder that will surely arise, once the rethuglicans stop obstucting progress. They will go FORWARD unhindered!

  • Hyperion||

    Forward, together!

  • T o n y||

    As I am almost all other liberals advocate a mixed economy with merely somewhat different priorities than the mixed economy you propose, I'm not sure what you're trying to argue.

  • Virginian||

    Yep. Other people create the wealth, and he skims off the top and tells everyone how righteous he is.

  • ||

    Yes. And the mixed economy advocated for gets more and more socialistic every generation.

  • ||

    So you don't support the above then? I'll admit that is principled even if I disagree with the principle.

  • Paul.||

    The way I see it is if he committed any major betrayal of his constituency, he'll lose the next election. If he doesn't, whatever vote-swap he performed is essentially a non-issue.

    I'm guessing that whether he did this for a corrupt reason or not, he felt he had a constituency which wouldn't be rocked by his change of position.

  • Brandybuck||

    What is this "pure" system you are talking about? In what fictional universe does it exist?

  • Randian||

    The point of democracy is that people get an equal say in policy, and when money enters the equation, those with more money are more equal, and that is contrary to the point of democracy.

    So should every person running for office be required by law to be dressed in burlap sacks and wear a ski mask?

    After all, attractive and well-dressed people get more votes, and that makes them more equal, and therefore contrary to democracy.

  • Fluffy||

    The point of democracy is that people get an equal say in policy

    That's not the point of democracy.

    If we did as you suggest and limited the amount of money in politics to make everyone's monetary impact equal, all voters would still not have an equal say in politics.

    As a legislator I could still safely ignore stupid and lazy people. Stupid people would not know if I had acted against their interests, and lazy people wouldn't bother to keep track of my activities or vote if they did keep track.

    So that would mean that for everyone to have an equal say, we'd have to suppress the participation of the intelligent and energetic, until it dropped to the level of participation of the stupid and lazy.

    Also, motivated minorities would have more of a say on particular issues than their equivalent numbers among the rest of the population. In this case, gays would care more about gay marriage than others, on average. But that would give them an unequal impact on my behavior as a legislator, because I'd have to worry that they'd hold my actions on an issue important to them against me.

    So obviously to make sure everyone has an equal say, we'd have to suppress the participation of gays, so that their greater motivation on this issue wouldn't give them an outsized impact on the outcome relative to people who don't give a shit.

  • T o n y||

    Money will always influence politics. I don't know why anyone should disagree that the more it influences politics, the less democratic the system becomes. There will never be a pure system, and money tends to find a way, so the pro-democratic action must always be on the side of vigilantly policing the role of money in politics, not actively promoting it like you guys do.

    An idea system balances everyone's interests fairly and reasonably. We'll never have an ideal system, of course. The problem of stupid people is the very reason universal education exists. The point is to promote a more functional democracy. The problem of vocal minorities is not a problem, as minorities will always struggle to be heard.

    Speech that is more effective is not a problem; that speech can be more or less effective is the entire reason speech matters. But effectiveness of speech and more ability to buy politicians with money aren't the same thing. Speech is constitutionally protected for a reason. A practical, progressive one. Spending on political campaigns is not mentioned once in the constitution. As all you textualists will agree I'm sure.

  • Randian||

    Spending on political campaigns is not mentioned once in the constitution. As all you textualists will agree I'm sure.

    Neither is the right to have sex with whom you choose.

    It's so obvious as to be unstated, however, that the government cannot regulate the shoe leather you use to go door to door.

  • ||

    Money will always influence politics. I don't know why anyone should disagree that the more it influences politics, the less democratic the system becomes. There will never be a pure system, and money tends to find a way, so the pro-democratic action must always be on the side of vigilantly policing the role of money in politics, not actively promoting it like you guys do.

    Nope. It's not the money itself that matters. Can you literally buy votes with that money? No. All it's spent on is advertisements for the candidate and against their opponent.

  • ||

    So the real issue isn't money, but information. When people have enough information about the candidates involved, more money won't do anything. So, contrary to what you think, the solution isn't to keep money out of politics, but to enable each candidate to get enough information out there that voters get all the information they need to decide (even if those decisions are imperfect, being exposed to more information makes them more informed).

    That's why, if you've been paying attention, the Speechnow.org decision has had the opposite effect that critics claimed it would: people with less money to spend are winning elections, because groups like Super PACs are spending enough money to get those candidates past the information threshold. Enabling groups of citizens to spend as much money as they want gets more PACs out there, which inevitably spend money on lesser known candidates. Sure, well-known candidates get money spent on ads for them too, but it doesn't matter as much since they're already well-known. They already have enough money to bankroll their ad campaigns. Non-incumbents who spend much lower amounts of money than other candidates, including the actual incumbents, have been winning Senate races. "In six of the most hotly contested GOP primary contests this cycle, the best-funded candidate lost." The answer isn't forbidding, or limiting, independent expenditures. It's allowing them.

  • ||

    Spending on political campaigns is not mentioned once in the constitution. As all you textualists will agree I'm sure.

    Except spending in itself wasn't banned, it was "electioneering communications". That is, SPEECH. And freedom of speech IS mentioned in the constitution.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    All votes *for* gay marriage are pure.

    All votes *against* gay marriage are corrupt.

    Gee, did none of you go to college?

  • fried wylie||

    Gee, did none of you go to college?

    He asks, in reference to the obligatory (soon to be federally mandated) Experimental College Homosexual Experience (ECHE).

  • fried wylie||

    I don't understand. The tone of this post reads to me like surprise, except the subject sounds like business as usual.

  • R C Dean||

    I took the tone to be ironic snark, in the service of exposing hypocrisy.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    I've heard, but have not received confirmation, that the good senator only changed his position after doing extensive "poling", if you know what I'm saying.

    NTTAWWT.

  • John||

    Free country. The gays bought themselves a few votes. It is up to the voters to decide if that is a bad thing. But the gays are now precluded from complaining when their opponents do the same thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    But the gays are now precluded from complaining when their opponents do the same thing.

    No they're not. They're unprincipled hypocrites. Of course they will complain when their opponents do the same thing.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Gayist!

  • Randian||

    They're unprincipled hypocrites.

    Bigotry much?

  • Hyperion||

    I've said it many times before, but this gay marriage thing is really going to confuse a lot of judges. When both partners are the same sex, who do you decide to screw over? It's easy now.

    Maybe if there is a gay and a lesbian couple divorcing at the same time, you just take everything that the gays have and give it to the lesbians and that will make the progressives happy. If there is not a lesbian couple available to take all the gay divorcees stuff, you just find some crack hos on the street and give all the stuff to them.

    Be careful what you wish for, gays.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure the judge will be able to pick up on which one is the dominant one, and give them the short end of the stick.

  • John||

    I think gays are nuts to want to get married. Wait until someone explains palimony law to them. Oh you let your friend stay on your coach for a couple of years when he was down on his luck, pay up.

  • Hyperion||

    It's all an attention thing.

    Hey, lookie over here at me... I'm special! What?, you can pee standing up?! Well I want to also!

  • Hyperion||

    Well, John, you are just lacking in empathy. You must be a Rethuglican.

    I mean, if someone got used to crashing on your sofa, then they are entitled to that forever. Else it might hurt their feelings and that wouldn't be fair. You should have just gave them your bed, otherwise they may have felt unequal and it could have damaged them for life. In which case, you are liable. What would Jesus do, John? Just ask yourself that. Jesus was a Liberal!

  • ||

    No, only heartless liberals hate marriage! I always knew John was a fake.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I think you're right on that. Outside of parental and end of life issues there is really no benefit for a guy under current law to get married.

  • T o n y||

    Completely agree.

    Which of course does not mean government should forbid them from making the choice for themselves.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    There's an iron law for that. You're not free unless you're free to make a mistake.

  • ||

    SUICIDE IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW

    Any more -- from the wiki:

    Historically, various states listed the act of suicide as a felony, but these policies were sparsely enforced. In the late 1960s, eighteen U.S. states lacked laws against suicide.[13] By the late 1980s, thirty of the fifty states had no laws against suicide or suicide attempts but every state had laws declaring it to be felony to aid, advise or encourage another person to commit suicide.[14] By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification.

  • Hyperion||

    Don't worry, the proglodytes will team up with the neocons and socons to bring it back, for the children.

  • ||

    very cool, protefeed. see, this site is valuable.

    i never knew that shit about how recently it WAS a crime

    so, i get to school somebody about how it isn't currently, and i get schooled about how it used to be

    i feel all edumacated and shit.

  • ||

    We both know you only come for the commentary. From now on, they should put us at the top of the page, and the posts at the bottom. That way more people can benefit from out wisdom.

  • ||

    yes. for the children

  • ||

    The point of democracy is that people get an equal say in policy

    The point of democracy is that the majority gets to oppress the minority, or sometimes a well-financed or organized minority gets to oppress the minority, ala the WoD.

    The point of what we ostensibly have, a constitutional republic, is to rein in this coercive behavior, in particular the Bill of Rights. It hasn't done that very well.

  • ||

    Should read above: "or sometimes a well-financed or organized minority gets to oppress the majority"

  • ||

    The point of democracy is that people get an equal say in policy...



    That's the inherent flaw in democracy.

    Anyone who finds himself in the fifty percent plus one (or more) group has infinitely more say in policy than someone who finds himself in the fifty percent minus one (or less) group.

    Without limitations on the power of government created by limiting the number of things that can be decided by voting Democracy is just tyranny of the majority over the minority.

    And since you, Toady, have declared more than once that no decision is off limits to a democratic vote the only conclusion is that you like tyranny.

  • T o n y||

    Anything that is off-limits to democratic decision making is by definition a tyranny. What authority gets to place which things above democracy? Whose god, in other words?

  • Randian||

    Should your life be subject to a majority vote?

  • sarcasmic||

    Anything that is off-limits to democratic decision making is by definition a tyranny.

    Tyranny of the Individual!
    People making their own decisions instead of having the decisions of others forced upon them!
    The horror!
    Oh the humanity!
    Aaaaauuuggghhh!

    Holy shit you're stupid.
    Anything that is off limits to being forced upon people is, well, liberty.
    I seriously can't get over how stupid you are.

  • ||

    Anything that is off-limits to democratic decision making is by definition a tyranny.

    Unlike a 51% majority, which is TOTALLY not tyrannical at all.

  • T o n y||

    There are things too precious to be left up to majority whims. But that doesn't mean we take away people's ultimate authority altogether and place it in the hands of a deity (or whatever). If 90% of this country wanted to abolish the freedom of speech, I don't see what should (or could) stop them.

  • ||

    There are things too precious to be left up to majority whims.

    Yeah, nearly everything.

    But that doesn't mean we take away people's ultimate authority altogether and place it in the hands of a deity (or whatever).

    What? Where did that come from? Did I mention God? I'm not religious, doofus.

    If 90% of this country wanted to abolish the freedom of speech, I don't see what should (or could) stop them.

    If you don't see a problem with abolishing freedom of speech, then.... well, I'm not surprised you'd be ok with something so vile.

  • Jordan||

    Have you told your fellow gays that you think people should be allowed to stone them to death if enough of them desire it?

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