Strange Bedfellows and Money Trails Behind Gay Marriage Bill

Two years ago, the New York Legislature rejected same-sex marriage. Now, shortly after NY State Senator Roy McDonald dropped the f-bomb in favor of legalizing gay marriage, New York has dropped a bomb of its own on the nation. After lawmakers voted on Friday in support of gay marriage, the Empire State became the sixth and largest state allowing same-sex couples to wed. After they are through dancing in the streets, gay rights activists can thank one loyal green friend for playing such a large role in this legislation: cold, hard cash.

So how did the bill pass, and where did the capital come from? You can find the answer in NY’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, and his answer in extremely wealthy Republican donors. These fat cats had enough power and made enough promises of contributions to protect ambivalent senators from conservative backlash. They also channeled their more libertarian views, and considered the legislation from a civil liberties standpoint. One million dollars and a colossal lobbying campaign later, New York was well on its way to passing the gay marriage bill.

GOP heavy hitters such as Paul Singer, CEO of Elliot Management, and hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb, threw their support behind the bill. Whether the donations struck a personal note — as in the case of Paul Singer, whose son is gay — or were solely for political reasons, the bill would not have passed without them.

Now, it’s not all about the money. The wizards of Wall Street wouldn’t have been so keen to take money from their pockets and put it toward same-sex marriage legislation if the LGBT community hadn’t coalesced so effectively. Formerly unorganized and fragmented, gay rights activists have shown that they deserve financial support with their increasingly unified cause. New Yorkers United for Marriage, the LGBT umbrella group, is a force to be reckoned with, and certainly earned the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The gains don’t stop with gay couples, either. As of July 24, when the unions become legal, New York is expected to undergo an economic boom, which comes as no surprise to the GOP bankrollers. Companies like Tiffany & Co. and Williams-Sonoma, as well as hotels and tailor shops, will see a huge surge in profits.