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Monday, June 20, 2011

Passage of Gay Marriage in New York Could Be Hours Away

One vote stands in the way of New York becoming the sixth and most populous state to pass gay marriage legislation. After the bill passed the State Assembly last week in an 80-63 vote, state senators quickly garnered enough support and now Staten Island Republican Andrew Lanza could provide the deciding vote. Should Lanza vote in favor, the New York state senate could pass the bill by the time the legislative session closes at 11:59 p.m. The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote, though state legislators worked through the weekend in anticipation of one, soliciting opinions from constituents over Twitter and fielding as many as 70 phone calls an hour. Reports from the behind-closed-doors negotiations in Albany sound promising for the gay rights activists supporting the bill. The New York Post reports:
Gov. Cuomo and Senate Republican boss Dean Skelos could say, "I do" as soon as today on a historic gay-marriage bill that includes strengthened exemptions for religious groups.
Negotiators for the Republican-run Senate privately admitted that a deal is near after aides spent the Father's Day weekend ironing out language to appease "religious liberty" concerns that have been raised by several fence-sitting GOP senators.
For the past week, lawmakers have debated and updated the bill championed by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, who's now being hailed as "the new face of gay marriage rights," according to the Associated Press. Cuomo said on Friday that he expects the gay marriage law to pass before the end of the legislative session on Monday but is also willing to extend the session if necessary. "There is a full agenda for both the Assembly and Senate to accomplish and the legislative session will not end, either through regular or special session, until the people's business is done," promised the governor. That said, Lanza, who represents a district with more Republicans than elsewhere in the city, has voted against gay marriage in the past, citing religious concerns.
Sunday, hundreds of gay rights activists gathered across New York to show their support for the marriage bill. New Yorkers United for Marriage held rallies across the state. In Manhattan, advocates gather in Union Square to show their support for the legislation by reminding the public how the bill represents much more than the right to stand at the altar and confidently dubbed their event the "Last Day of Inequality" rally. "Injustice everywhere is injustice anywhere we need to deconstruct these laws that are unjust and create one that gives everyone the right to marry,” gay rights activist Jackie Lewis told CBS New York. "God made people gay, so them being allowed to marry is not only a moral right, but it’s a civil right.”
New York's archbishop has maintain skepticism over the bill by providing constant reminders that the Catholic Church does not support gay marriage. He's vowed to oppose "any radical bill to redefine the very essence of marriage." However, in his Sunday sermon he tipped his hat to the overwhelming support for the bill. "I know we’re sort of the David here, up against a Goliath, but we’re not going to give up. That’s what this request for prayers was all about,” said Dolan.
Back on Staten Island, some citizens don't seem to mind that the Catholic Church isn't on board. Bodybuilder and gym owner Paulie Inchierchiera told The New York Times, "They don’t have to get married in a Catholic church, so I don’t think the Catholic church should have any bearing on what they do."

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