The same-sex marriage bill in New York has remained one vote from passage, for a week.
But that one vote, seems to be far, far away.
Legislators left the Capitol late Thursday night with another day of inaction, which was apparently unexpected for the legislators, as Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat, told the New York Times he's running out of clean dress shirts and may need to wear an inappropriate short-sleeve polo underneath his suit.
There are still negotiations going on concerning mandate relief, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said late night Thursday. Bills would not be ready until 4 or 5 in the morning. I think for the good health of all the members, we apologize, but we will be adjourning.
Several legislators, staffers and lobbyists had predicted a vote in the overnight session Thursday, and the protesters outside the Capitol were determined to stay where they were all night.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, the bill was still not printed for all the major issues discussed in Albany - from a property tax cap, to rent control for apartments in New York City, a tuition hike for SUNY and CUNY campuses, and relief of municipal mandates.
The Senate's Republican majority is scheduled to meet behind closed doors at 10 a.m. on Friday, then go into open session, according to the Associated Press.
Once the other bills are dealt with, the Senate Republicans can start, and hopefully put an end to, the lengthy debate over the same-sex marriage bill.
According to the Times Union, roughly 100 supporters filled the hallways and galleries of the Senate chamber. Beginning in the morning, they hurled chants and songs at dozens of traditional marriage advocates. Evangelical Christian groups prayed and sang hymns in the Capitol halls, hoping to see the bill fail.
Protesters' unceasing passion is remarkable, but this marathon may have had the legislators run out of their breath, along with dress shirts.
Bruce Berg, a professor of political science at Fordham University, said the small number of social conservatives in New York and growing public opinion in favor of gay marriage could shield the undecided senators, reported Reuters.
The big issues are the budget, the economy, jobs and taxes. If Republican senators can vote correctly on those issues, they may be given a pass on same-sex marriage, Berg said.
The same-sex marriage bill, which passed the State Assembly on June 15, has attracted national attention. Originally submitted by Cuomo, the bill, if passed, would make New York the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriage. Legal equality in marriage status was so far reached in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia as well as the state of Iowa.
The bill awaits one more Senate vote to pass, while a handful of senators have been identified as undecided. Undecided senators have cited concerns over protections for religious groups and individuals as the factors that stagnate the negotiations.
While no religious exemption language has been made public, the three Republicans who negotiated the religious exemption language with Cuomo's office are potential yes votes: Kemp Hannon, Andrew Lanza and Stephen Saland.
Sen. Andrew Lanza said that the Senate is close on language that I believe satisfactorily addresses the issue. The party remains divided on how to handle the bill but those advocating for a vote are likely to win out, an unnamed Republican senator told the Wall Street Journal.
On Wednesday, Skelos hinted that the Republican conference and Cuomo are close on amendments to the same sex marriage bill that would clarify protections for religious organizations from lawsuits.
My colleagues and [the governor's] counsel's office are looking very closely at religious protections and I think they will conclude that. Once we have final legislation we'll discuss it in conference, Skelos said.
According to Advocate, people familiar with the negotiations said the talks focused on narrow issues that would not roll back the protections for sexual orientation in the state's current laws. The amendment language further needs to be approved by the Assembly, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver indicated Wednesday he felt comfortable with a draft he had seen.
The bill will either enter the Senate floor for a vote or held back, effectively killing the measure for the second time since 2009.