The long-stalled same-sex marriage bill in New York may finally see a floor vote later tonight in Albany, where Senate Republicans have been discussing the controversial bill for a week.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, after a private meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said that some technical language is still being completed, but he's hopeful it would be passed today.
Skelos said he expects all the other major outstanding issues, including a state university tuition hike and a cap on property tax increases, can be voted on today. It would leave same-sex marriage as the last bill to hit the floor.
This will be decided by the conference when they're going to bring it out. I expect it's going to be a lengthy conference, a thoughtful conference, as we always do. And then we'll make a decision. I'm not going to work under time constraints. We're going to do it when the conference is ready, said Skelos.
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. 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.
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.
In Albany, protests for and against the bill have pressured the Republican conference.
The bill will either enter the Senate floor for a vote or held back, effectively killing the measure for the second time since 2009.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will be landing at JFK airport at 5 p.m., Thursday to host an LGBT annual gala. Obama's itinerary includes a $1,250-a-ticket dinner hosted by Neil Patrick Harris the Gala, and a $35,800-a-plate dinner at Daniel on the Upper East Side 65th Street, followed by a fundraising performance of Sister Act at the Sheraton hotel at Seventh Avenue and 53th Street.