Weprin Faces Backlash in Orthodox Community

| August 18, 2011 11:00 AM

The first New York politician imperiled by voting for same-sex marriage isn’t an upstate Republican senator – it’s a Democratic Assemblyman from New York City scrambling to hold his support in a special election.

Assemblyman David Weprin, vying for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat in a special election this September, may lose supporters among the Orthodox Jewish community due to his support of same-sex marriage. Photo courtesy of City Hall News.

Insiders say Assemblyman David Weprin, running in the special election for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat, is facing a revolt among Orthodox Jews – though he himself is an Orthodox Jew – because he strongly defended same-sex marriage during an Albany debate.

In his June 15 speech, Weprin said his own Orthodox rabbi would not marry a Jew and a non-Jew, which he felt was wrong — and that gay marriage was no different.

“My religion is very important to me personally, but this is not a religious issue,” Weprin said. “I think everyone here would agree that we should not be outlawing marriages between Jews and non-Jews or interracial marriages.”

With most of the attention at the time focused on the vote counting in the state Senate, Weprin’s comment garnered little notice in the wider world. But his rhetoric has since gained wide attention by many in the Orthodox Jewish community, and videos of his speech have rocketed across their websites.

Democratic and Republican insiders say that speech, more than former Mayor Ed Koch’s efforts to tie Weprin to President Barack Obama on Israel, has put the Orthodox vote in play — providing a huge boon to his Irish Catholic Republican opponent, Bob Turner.

It was not so much the vote itself, but the way Weprin argued in favor of the bill by tying it to his faith, neighborhood political observers say, noting Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also voted for the bill but was far less vocal.

And though the Orthodox population in Kew Gardens and especially in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush does not make up an overwhelming part of the district, the community is full of committed voters who could well make a difference in a low turnout special election.

“What he said in the Assembly has been played over-and-over on YouTube,” said one well-connected neutral observer of the race. “People were really offended that he said he was an Orthodox who was supporting gay marriage.”

During the campaign, some rabbis have refused to meet with Weprin, while the newspaper Hamodia reported that others have refused to be photographed with the assemblyman. Editorial writers for Jewish newspapers and well-read blogs have blasted him.

Read the full post at City Hall News.

  • DM

    Putting Country and The American People First
    FDR once said To Attain Prosperity, we cannot have a Half Boom, Half Broke Nation.
    I cannot understand why any New Yorker would reward any BAD, UGLY behavior. How can any New Yorker support a party that would push this United States to the BRINK of Default; whose representatives would prefer to sit on the sidelines and say “No, No, No” on each and every issue rather than making a serious effort to help this country and the American people recover during these very difficult times; and who are determined to destroy the safety net of people struggling on Main Street during these difficult times while giving millionaires and wealthy investor more free rides. What kind of U.S. Congressman would do anything like this? What kind of person would do anything like this? What happened to country first?
    Also, during the past five months of this year (2011), the unemployment rate has been INCREASING; however, from March 2009 to April 2011, the unemployment was DECREASING. Again, despite having millions of people unemployed, it appears that many House Republicans will still say “No, No, No” to efforts to create jobs and get the American people back to work.
    It appears that The Republican Party has been hijacked by some people with extreme views. The Republican Party has not always been this reckless, irresponsible, and vicious. This is not the same Republican Party that was founded on the respect for who we are, what America represents: The United States of America, ONE nation, with liberty and justice for all.
    This is America. This is America, the world’s greatest democracy. The world’s largest economy. Many, many patriots have risked their lives and fortunes so that this great nation shall long endure. It is our duty. It is our responsibility to complete the tasks remaining before us. We must restore civility and brinkmanship so that this nation shall long endure.
    Every crisis has it dangers and opportunities. It can spell either our salvation or doom. All of us, without regard political philosophy must find a way to do our part to make life better in this country.
    How we deal with these issues will determine our moral health as individuals, our cultural health as a region, our political health as a nation, and our prestige as leaders of the free world (mlk).

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