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State Senator Storobin on Gay Marriage and Simcha Felder as an Opponent


Eli Chomsky (left) and State Senator David Storobin in The Jewish Press offices in Brooklyn.

Eli Chomsky (left) and State Senator David Storobin in The Jewish Press offices in Brooklyn.

In the first of a series of Jewish Press Forum videos, the newspaper recently sat down with Republican State Senator David Storobin in its Brooklyn offices. In the interview, conducted by Jewish Press editorial staffer Eli Chomsky, Storobin spoke about overturning gay marriage, the “Christine Quinn agenda,” and why it might be more difficult to face the little-known Abraham Tischler, 20, than the establishment candidate Simcha Felder (Democratic Party opponents) in this November’s general election for a seat in the State Senate’s new “Super Jewish” district. The interview and video have been picked up by several websites, including City & State and New York Observer’s Politicker blog.

Before jumping into politics, Storobin spoke about several issues that are pressing to many in New York City’s Jewish community. Although courts in New York have ruled that banning gay marriage would be unconstitutional, Storobin expressed confidence that overturning the bill in the state legislature is possible. “Almost every idea, when first presented, is thrown out and seen as impossible,” he said, “including my own candidacy.”

Gay marriage began as civil unions, then became marriage, and now it is being taught to schoolchildren, he said, and he believes it is time to take a stand. “Even if the only thing that we do is stop it at gay marriage, that already is a significant achievement.”

Asked by Chomsky about school vouchers, the state senator responded that he is very hopeful about implementing the school voucher program in New York, and that he wants to be in line with the needs of the people of his district. He said that 70-80 percent of liberals who vote Democrat support school vouchers. “Most politicians are trying to suppress this issue because it would force them to decide whether they stand with their labor union or with their voters.”

Storobin said that he chose to run for the State Senate instead of the Assembly because in the latter, he would be in the minority. “In the Senate it pays to be a Republican and my district leans more towards the Republican Party,” he said, based on the number of votes garnered by GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who won a little over 60 percent of the district in 2008. And, as Storobin pointed out, in the race for New York governor in November 2010, Carl Paladino – whose campaign featured his heavy opposition to gay marriage – lost Brooklyn by a 6-1 margin to Andrew Cuomo, but won handily in the 48th Assembly district, which includes most of Boro Park.

According to Storobin, his opponent in March’s State Senate special election, Councilman Lew Fidler, is a liberal Democrat who supports President Obama and “the Christine Quinn agenda.” Storobin noted that Felder also supports both. “People tend to assume that all frum Jews are conservative,” remarked Storobin, as if political views were all based on religious standing, “but that is not the case.” Through his past voting record, Felder has clearly demonsrated that he is no conservative, Storobin added.

Storobin said that he believes Felder is “too out of touch with the needs of the people in his district….Do the people of this district want to support Democrats so that Nancy Pelosi can become speaker? And are they going to support Barack Obama?” Storobin mentioned that Felder brought New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to a Bais Yaakov girls school and pointed to her as a role model for the students. “I bet none of the parents would agree with him,” Storobin said. “Christine Quinn’s lifestyle is not what they would choose for their girls.”

Many believe that as an Orthodox Jew, Felder may presume that he has the Orthodox vote wrapped up. But Democrat David Weprin’s loss last fall against Bob Turner for an open New York congressional seat may be instructive, political observers warn. Many Orthodox voters turned away from the Orthodox Weprin due to his strong support of gay marriage.

As to whom he’d rather square off against in November, Felder or Tischler, Storobin said, “Tischler has more conservative values, so he might be more difficult to fight with on ideological issues. I don’t disagree with Tischler nearly as much as I disagree with Simcha Felder.”

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10 Responses to “State Senator Storobin on Gay Marriage and Simcha Felder as an Opponent”

  1. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Sen. Storobin makes the unfortunate (and inexcusable for a law maker) mistake of confusing the US Constitution with Religious morals. Because the US Constitution forbids different rights for different minorities (Art.1-9 : "Congress shall not pass no bill of attainder…"), either marriage is to lose all legal status, or its status has to be extended to all unions between consenting adults, including homosexual ones. This doesn't mean -far from it- that a Church, Temple, Synagogue, or Mosque can be forced to perform sacraments it opposes. Separation of Church and State insures that no one be forced to endure moral tenets (s)he opposes. In essence, Sen. Storobin can rest at ease: he never has to condone an homosexual marriage in his place of cult if he doesn't wish to. The same US Constitution which grants homosexuals the right to marry, protects his right not to bear witness to a union he disapproves.

  2. Yori Yanover says:

    I was questioning the need to make a social wedge issue the centerpiece of a campaign with the real needs of the district being so obvious. It's so Karl Rove 2004 playbook.

  3. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    This seems to be the pattern this year, with most states legislatures driven into an anti-abortion/anti-contraception frenzy, when it's quite obvious the population is much more concerned with jobs, living wages, housing, decaying public services and infrastructures.

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    The thing is, we really NEED more New York Republicans in the House, because NY State should not become a one-party state. But if that's the direction the east coast Republicans are pushing, Ican't see them winning. I miss the Rockefeller Republicans.

  5. Simcha Felder gained popularity in Boro Park for advocating strongly on their behalf, including in matters relating to Israel. Although personally opposed to homosexuality as being against Judaism, he backed Christine Quinn for City Council Speaker in what was seen as a political move to gain allies. Felder opposes same-sex marriage.

    What is good for Boro Park are politicians that can make allies to bring home bread and butter. Politicians like Storobin remind me of Charles Barron of Bedford- Stuyvesant. Both are great culture warriors but not as strong in helping those who would vote for them.

  6. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    I haven't seen any in a very long time. I wish there were 5 major parties in the US. It would offer a bit more of a balance

  7. Charlie Hall says:

    I grew up in Maryland when Charles Mathias was serving in the House (8 years) and Senate (18 years). While he was pro-business, he was also pro-civil rights, pro-environment, saw quickly that the Vietnam war was a mistake, and supported programs benefitting the poor. Mathias would never win a Republican primary today.

  8. Charlie Hall says:

    The one time I have ever seen Christine Quinn was in an orthodox synagogue. And why not? There is no halachic prohibition for non-Jewish woman to have sex with another non-Jewish woman, and neither Quinn nor her partner are Jewish! Furthermore, the alternative Speaker candidate to Quinn was the evil anti-Semite Charles Barron. Do we really want to support Israel-hating anti-Semites just because they oppose same sex marriage?

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    Establishing a school voucher program in New York would require amending the state constitution. The last time this was attempted was in 1967, when NY Democrats led by supporters of then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy controlled a constiutional convention that made that proposal. Unfortunately, Gov. Rockefeller only have the proposed constitutional revisions lukewarm support, and most of the rest of the Republican Party including Lt. Gov. Wilson opposed them. The result was a resounding defeat at the polls, with only 28% of the voters supporting the revisions. It lost in every county.

    David Storobin's is correct that many liberal Democrats such as myself would support such a constitutional revision, but I don't see it happening with his Take No Prisoners style. A moderate voice is needed to build the necessary coalitions.

  10. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Actually, female homosexuality isn't even against Jewish law. Just the male one. It seems unfair to males, but it is a reflection of its effect on the very small nation of Israel.
    Male homosexuals marrying each other, meant no reproduction.
    Females being married to the man chosen by Daddy, whether they liked it or not, could very well have a girlfriend on the side without affecting either the reproductive rate or the patriarchal structure of the Jewish society.
    This is verified by the recent rabbinical ruling about transsexual people's right to marry. They are free to marry a woman, but not a man.

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