Seven or more Senate Republicans have signaled Gov. Cuomo that they're ready to legalize same-sex marriage, more than enough to put the controversial and historic measure over the top this week, The Post has learned.
A highly knowledgeable Senate insider said yesterday that "far more of the [GOP] members are in play than anyone realizes, including some surprising names from conservative upstate areas."
Among the unexpected potential Senate Republican "yes" votes, insiders say, are Kemp Hannon of Nassau County, Charles Fuscillo of Suffolk County, Betty Little of Glens Falls, Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, Greg Ball of Putnam County, James Alesi of Rochester, and Roy McDonald of Rensselaer County -- all of whom helped defeat gay marriage when the vote was held in December 2009.
Influences contributing to the changes of heart are secret Republican polls showing majority support for gay marriage in key swing districts and the strong possibility that the GOP could lose control of the Senate next year to Democrats campaigning on the issue, sources said.
But despite the growing support, passage of same-sex marriage remains uncertain at the start of the final full week of the legislative session.
Cuomo administration sources said the number of lawmakers backing the bill has been seesawing almost daily. One cautiously put the odds of it passing the Senate at "50-50," and then revised it to "60-40 against." The measure has repeatedly passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly.
Some pro-gay-marriage GOPers have confessed that they're afraid to go public because they don't want to wind up being the crucial 32nd vote needed for passage, a potentially suicidal political position.
"Several senators who say they'll vote for marriage equality want a larger group to join with them, to give them cover, so they won't be blamed alone for passing it and wind up being defeated next year," said a well-known Republican working to line up GOP votes.
Cuomo worked the weekend trying to ease Republican concerns by delivering all but one Senate Democrat for the proposal.
That would add three more supporters to the 26 Democrats backing the measure, meaning only four Republican votes would be needed to assure a two-vote majority for passage.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) a same-sex-marriage opponent, was described as "totally confounded about what to do."
"Dean has his finger in the wind and he's still not certain which way the wind is blowing," said a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation.
Skelos, who says he'll allow a gay-marriage vote only if a majority of Republicans agree to do so, was described as "terrified" that the Conservative Party will oppose GOP senators who back same-sex marriage, potentially costing them control of the Senate.
"Some Republican senators who are ready to vote for gay marriage won't do it if Dean convinces them it would cost them their majority," said a key Republican operative.
Bill supporters have countered that Independence Party Chairman Frank McKay is ready to have his party make up for lost Conservative support.
In addition, some prominent Republicans are arguing that changing voter attitudes make same-sex marriage inevitable and that it's in the GOP members' interest to put the issue behind them.