NY Senate Could Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Law
November 9, 2009Advocates for same-sex marriage are hitting New York's state capital hard, trying to sway the few votes needed for final legislative approval of the bill in a special session Tuesday.
This comes a week after a Maine referendum soundly repealed that state's new same-sex marriage law.
What appears to be a likely vote in New York is being forced by Gov. David Paterson who put it on the agenda of the extraordinary session he's calling for Tuesday.
Although he can require the Legislature consider the bill, Paterson can't compel lawmakers to vote. This makes for a rare moment in Albany when the outcome of the floor votes isn't clear well before the formal action.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage advocates remain pleased that they may finally get a vote for final legislative approval in the Senate. Still, they don't know if there are enough votes to pass the bill.
"I think a lot of senators woke up this morning and realized a vote on marriage equality is real and could come tomorrow," said Alan Van Capelle executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group.
"I know about their family members who are gay and lesbian, their friends who are gay lesbian, and at the end of the day I believe, when this comes to the floor, these individuals will not be able to vote against their friends and their family," he said. "Now is the time for them to stand up and be counted. All eyes are on Albany."
The movement suffered setbacks last Tuesday in off-year elections. In Maine, a referendum repealed the same-sex marriage law.
The Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said Tuesday's results have shown even moderate Republicans that they can't afford to back same-sex marriage going into the 2010 elections. He said the group is confident they have 35 or 36 senators opposed to the measure, which would block passage in the 62-seat house.
"God established marriage and I don't think the state has a right to redefine it," McGuire said. But he said the concern is really about children, who need to learn from mothers and fathers.
"Marriage is never about two people. It's about future generations," he said. "It does affect what's good for society as a whole."
Already passed in the Democrat-led Assembly and supported by Paterson, the measure wasn't brought to the floor in the spring because there weren't enough votes to pass it. Democrats hold a 32-30 majority, but a few opposed the bill on religious grounds.
Republican leader Dean Skelos has released his members to vote as they see fit, freeing them from the usual bloc voting. Van Capelle of the Pride Agenda called Skelos a "genuine, honest partner in this struggle," a switch from previous years when Senate Republicans, then in the majority, killed the measure.
The Pride Agenda released the names Monday of 700 clergy and lay leaders from across New York State who support the bill.
Meanwhile, the extraordinary session is setting up a showdown with between Paterson and the Senate over how to address a $3.2 billion deficit and allow New York to pay its December bills.
Paterson hoped his rare midyear address Monday to a joint meeting of the Legislature would draw support for his plan to cut spending, among other measures.
But the Democrat-led Senate continues to oppose his proposal, pitching its own plan that avoids what the conference calls painful cuts.
Negotiations continue, with few deals in sight.
Associated Press Writer Valerie Bauman contributed to this report from Albany.
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