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CBS 2 Exclusive: L.I. Candidate Loses GOP Endorsement Over Same-Sex Marriage Ceremonies

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SEA CLIFF, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Republican candidate for the state assembly said officiating at same-sex wedding ceremonies has cost him the endorsement of his party.

But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported exclusively Wednesday, Bruce Kennedy, the mayor of Sea Cliff, Long Island,s said he is simply upholding the law of the land.

Roni Epstein and Marsha Silverman are newlyweds and were married in a ceremony performed by Kennedy.

“We were very happy to have Bruce be able to do it,” Epstein said. “He did a wonderful job.”

But officiating at same-sex weddings has cost him the Republican endorsement for higher office. He had the backing of the Nassau County Republican Party, but that all changed when he was interviewed by Conservative Party leaders and asked if he had performed same-sex marriage ceremonies. He answered twice.

“I raised my right hand when I took the oath of office, and I swore to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state of New York,” Kennedy said.

That answer cost him the Conservative Party endorsement and in turn, the Republican Party withdrew its backing of Kennedy — citing the need for a unified ticket. Conservative leaders made no apologies.

“I don’t care what the law is,” said Nassau County Conservative Party Chairman Daniel Donovan Jr. “The law doesn’t mean anything to the Conservative Party. We believe in the law of God. That’s it.”

Donovan said it is the right of the party to endorse based on social issues.

“We live and die by them, and he died by it,” he said.

Three years beyond the Marriage Equality Act in New York State, gay rights advocates were stunned.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to take someone like Bruce Kennedy off the ticket because he refuses to go against the law of the land,” said marriage equality advocate Nini Camps.

Kennedy said he was offered the endorsement back if he apologized and “promised never to perform any same sex marriages again (and) renounce same-sex marriages.”

Kennedy categorically refused to do any such thing, and vowed to fight on — collecting signatures to run in the September primary as a Republican, without his party’s backing.

Nassau Republican leaders declined comment. The winner of the primary in September will face incumbent Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove.)

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