The prospects for New York becoming the sixth state to legalize gay marriage remain uncertain as the Senate's Republican majority emerged from another meeting yesterday saying they might not call a vote by the end of the session on Sunday.
The Democratic-controlled Assembly has already passed its version of the bill, and two GOP senators have joined all but one Senate Democrat in declaring their support. That puts the onus on the Republicans, both on the leadership to call a vote and on the individual members -- one more vote is needed to pass the bill, which means a lone Republican defector could tip the balance for the potentially historic measure.
Republican lawmakers again convened for several hours yesterday, joined by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been an ardent supporter of the bill. Lobbyists for both sides of the measure have swarmed Albany this week in a hectic climax to months of rallying by both supporters and opponents. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made his support for gay marriage a campaign priority, has also been applying pressure.
Some undecided senators oppose the bill because they believe it does not include a sufficient exception for religous groups or individuals who do not wish to support gay marriage. Religious groups have fought hard against the bill, with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan emerging as a vocal opponent. Some supporters say that religion has no place in the debate.
You do not put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, an openly gay Manhattan Democrat, said.
Five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- and the District of Columbia currently grant same-sex marriage licenses. New York's most recent attempt to legalize gay marriage, in 2009, ended in a 38-24 defeat.