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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bloomberg Headed to Albany to Push Gay Marriage Bill


In a rare unannounced visit, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City will travel to Albany Thursday morning to try to persuade Republican state senators to legalize same-sex marriage before they are scheduled to adjourn for the year, according to a person briefed on the plan.
His trip comes at a sensitive time for the Republican senators, who are embroiled in a fierce internal debate about how to proceed on gay marriage: most of them are opposed to the measure, but a handful are prepared to vote for it, if Senator Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader, allows the issue to reach the Senate floor.
Mr. Skelos is facing growing pressure to bring the issue to a vote after three Senate Democrats and two Senate Republicans who had previously opposed the bill declared their support for it over the past few days, leaving the legislation a single vote shy of passage.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, giving the Senate three working days to take up the marriage bill. As it has in the past, the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage by a wide margin on Wednesday night.
It was Mr. Bloomberg who requested the 10:30 am meeting Thursday, the person briefed on the matter said, to make his case for why New York should become the sixth and largest state in the country to allow gay couples to wed. He is expected to argue that it is consistent with Republican principles of limited government, personal liberty and strong families.
Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican turned independent who rarely spoke out about gay weddings during the first half of his mayoralty, has emerged as a passionate spokesman for gay marriage this year. He delivered an uncharacteristically personal speech on the topic, held a fund-raiser for the cause and went to Albany two weeks ago to lobby Republicans to pass the measure.
Mr. Bloomberg’s views may hold special weight with Republican senators, because he ranks among the biggest campaign donors to the state party in recent years.

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