Momentum for a vote on gay marriage legislation appears to be building at the State Capitol in Albany as Republican lawmakers started a closed-door session Thursday morning.
Two Republican senators have joined all but one Democratic senator in backing the bill, leaving it one declared supporter short of enough votes to pass. Governor Andrew Cuomo, D-New York, who has made the issue a priority, has spent recent days meeting with lawmakers over carveouts in the bill that would protect religious groups from sanctions, including repeals of tax-exempt status or property tax breaks, if they do not wish to facilitate marriage ceremonies or recognize gay marriage.
The entire [Republican] conference is looking at this language and the whole conference wants to make sure that they feel confident that if it comes out, and if it passes, that it protects religion, Cuomo said.
Sen. Andrew Lanza, an undecided Republican senator whose vote could prove crucial, 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 unnnamed Republican senator told the Wall Street Journal.
I see it coming to the floor, the senator said. People who don't understand the process are thinking, 'Don't bring it up and it will go away for a year.'
Albany is in the midst of a marathon session that has lawmakers running low on clean clothes as they remain in the Capitol days after the session was scheduled to end on Monday. In addition to gay marriage, they have been working to hammer out deals on issues including tuition at public universities, rent control laws, and a property tax cap.
Gay marriage advocates are hoping the issue gets a boost from President Barack Obama's presence Thursday night at a fundraiser for gay supporters in New York City.