BUFFALO, NY - Driving into Buffalo from the south, it's hard to miss the new billboard that went up along Interstate 190 near the Smith Street Exit. It reads, "Mark Grisanti You're Next", and some want the billboard taken down, calling its language 'inciteful'.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which strongly opposed New York legalizing same-sex marriage, paid for the billboard, part of its $2 million effort to defeat Senator Grisanti (R-60th) and other Republican lawmakers who broke with their ranks to help pass the bill. The billboard also references a special Web site created by NOM.
NOM's president was unavailable for an interview Thursday. A media relations specialist with the group said she was unable to release any statement regarding the billboard. Grisanti also declined comment, but his spokesperson, Doug Curella, released the following statement:
How is Sen. Grisanti "next"? - The extremists behind this billboard threat aren't just bullying Sen. Grisanti. They're bullying all Western New York families with gay sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, parents, grandparents, and close friends. They just don't get it, they never will, and regardless of a person's likes or dislikes its our duty to treat everyone equally and fairly.
2 On Your Side spoke with Tim Moran, publisher and editor of Outcome Buffalo, the area's gay newspaper. Moran said the billboard is hateful.
"All they're gonna do is bring the crazies out, and we could end up having somebody try to hurt somebody," Moran said. "And especially since this is a region that's grieving after the suicide of a young man who was bullied because he was perceived to be gay. Now we have someone who's being bullied, an elected official being bullied, because he voted to help people who are gay or lesbian."
For more on this controversial billboard, watch the video player to see the report from 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten and Photojournalist Ben Read.