Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married former New York City mayor, has come out strongly against Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s proposed gay marriage bill.
Giuliani’s opposition, articulated in an interview with The New York Post published Monday, was widely interpreted as an attempt by the moderate Republican to position himself for a possible run for the party’s 2010 New York gubernatorial nomination.
Same-sex marriage is shaping up as a hot-button 2010 issue both in New York and nationally, and Giuliani’s comments generated a quick backlash from gay rights groups, which had considered Giuliani an ally during his days in Gracie Mansion.
Joe Solmonese, president of the powerful gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement: “One would think that Rudy would understand the importance of having the chance, or in his case, the chances, to marry the one you love. But more importantly, according to today’s Siena poll he’s as much out of touch with [New York] voters on this issue, as he was with Republican primary voters on every other issue.”
But Gregory Angelo, a New York spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, sounded willing to give Giuliani the benefit of the doubt.
“Giuliani has been a friend of this organization in the past, and we would certainly welcome him as a friend of this organization now and in the future,” said Angelo, whose group represents gay Republicans and supports same sex marriage.
“Republicans are more and more supporting marriage,” he said, taking issue with the characterization of Giuliani’s comments to the Post as signaling a possible campaign strategy.
Giuliani has long supported civil unions for gay couples and in 1998 granted benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. While he has positioned himself as an opponent of same-sex marriage since at least his aborted 2000 Senate run against Hillary Clinton, he has not actively campaigned on the issue, an approach that left social conservatives uneasy with his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Giuliani, who has occasionally appeared in drag in lighthearted stunts, lived for a time with a gay couple.
A poll released Monday by Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., found that 53 percent of respondents wanted the state Senate to pass legislation introduced by Paterson legalizing same-sex marriages, compared with 39 percent who opposed it.
The religious right, which vehemently opposed Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, is rallying to the former New York mayor’s defense against attacks from gay rights groups.
“Good for Rudy for having the courage to speak up now for marriage as the union of husband and wife,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, in a statement.
Greg Scott, spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian conservative legal group that litigates marriage-related cases in New York and other states, said, “We are happy to see a prominent voice coming out in support of marriage in New York.”
And Michael Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State, a leading opponent of same-sex marriage, acknowledged “we’ve always had some differences (with Giuliani), but on this particular issue, I think the mayor was right on target, and he spoke for a lot of New Yorkers.”
Even Tony Perkins, president of the influential Family Research Council and an outspoken critic of Giuliani’s social views, commended his recent comments — albeit in a slightly backhanded manner.
“Mayor Giuliani has several positive traits, one that just became obvious is that he is a fairly quick learner,” Perkins said in a statement. “Rudy was knocked out of last year’s Republican primary because of his unorthodox views on life and marriage. His opposition to Gov. Paterson’s push for same-sex marriage shows he is in better touch with Americans than most politicians, at least on the issue of same-sex marriage.”
In fact, Giuliani has opposed same-sex marriage since at least his aborted 2000 Senate run against Hillary Clinton.
[...] Giuliani has long supported abortion rights as well as civil unions for gay couples and, in 1998, he extended benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. Plus, his personal life — including two divorces, a six-month cohabitation with gay friends and a couple of memorable cross-dressing skits — doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a typical Republican politician.
Still, Republican voters in New York are generally less socially conservative than those in other states. And in his interview with the Post and in subsequent comments, Giuliani has tried to balance his opposition to gay marriage with his continued support for civil unions.
“I think gay marriage will obviously be an issue for any Republican next year because Republicans are either in favor of the position I’m in favor of, civil unions, or in many cases Republicans don’t even favor civil unions,” he told Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker.
Later, on Dicker’s radio show, Giuliani said he wouldn’t make his opposition to gay marriage a centerpiece of a possible gubernatorial campaign.
The marriage issue “will be something that Republicans don’t have to use. This is something that will bring a lot of people to the Republican Party because it’s such a basic challenge to what people believe is the way society should be organized,” he said on the show, asserting that more voters are concerned about economic issues anyway.
Here’s a handy little timeline on the marriage history of Rudy, the family values guy:
1968–married Regina Peruggi.
1975–trial separation from Peruggi
1982–met Donna Hanover
August 1982–legally separated from Peruggi
1982–divorced civilly from Peruggi and got an annulment from Catholic Church, because Peruggi is his second cousin
1984–married Hanover (2 children, Andrew in 1986 and Caroline in 1989)
1997–Vanity Fair reports Giuliani had a romantic relationship with Cristyne Lategano, his communications director.
May 1999–met Judith Nathan
Summer of 1999–NYPD details were posted at Nathan’s home on weekends
May 2000–announced at a press conference that he intended to separate from Hanover (without telling her first)
May 2003–married Nathan (her third marriage, too, by the way)
Here’s some history on Newtie’s marital history, from Scoobie Davis:
Here’s a summary of Gingrich’s family life: 1) Gingrich marries his high school teacher, Jackie Battley, who was seven years his senior; 2) Jackie puts Gingrich through college and she works hard to get him elected to the House in 1978 (Gingrich won partly because his campaign claimed that his Democratic opponent would neglect her family if elected–at that time it was common knowledge that Gingrich was straying); 3) Shortly after being elected, Gingrich separated from his wife–announcing the separation in the hospital room where Jackie was recovering from cancer surgery (the divorce was final in 1981); Jackie Gingrich and her children had to depend on alms from her church because Gingrich didn’t pay any child support; 3) Six months after the divorce, Gingrich, then 38, married Marianne Ginther, 30; 4) “In May 1999,eight months after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Gingrich  called his Marianne  at her mother’s home. After wishing Marianne’s mother happy birthday, he told Marianne that he wanted a divorce.” 5) In 2000, Gingrich, 57, married ex-congressional aide Callista Bisek, 34, with whom he was having a relationship while married to Marianne.
From Matt Yglesias at Think Progress:
Somehow or other the conservative movement has gotten so intellectually bankrupt that the lunatics running the asylum think that Newt Gingrich is an intelligent and canny man. Consequently, he’s snagged himself a situation where he’s in the news constantly offering aperçus like “The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage.”
I’ve suggested this before, but if we want to bolster traditional marriage it seems to me that a much more reasonable measure than discrimination would be to say that you only get two divorces. After that, you can go about your business as you please, but no more spouses; you’re clearly not a person capable of making credible commitments.