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Now that Governor Cuomo has given his all toward passing gay marriage equality legislation, and the Assembly has passed the measure for a fourth time, the focus is exactly back where it’s been for the past two years: the State Senate.
Yet after significant momentum at the beginning of the week, when three Democratic and two Republicans who’d previously voted no publicly announced a change of heart, efforts have stalled. Only one Senate vote away from the 32 needed for passage, the Marriage Equality Bill is getting an increasingly terrible case of blue balls.
[UPDATE, 4 p.m. Friday, June 17: The bill will come to the Senate floor no earlier than Monday, Majority Leader Dean Skelos now says. In the city, the group Queer Rising is planning a rally outside the Stonewall Inn at 7:30 tonight demanding a vote.]
Three Republican senators — Stephan Saland, Mark Grisanti, and Andrew Lanza — had indicated, in varying degrees, that they are on the fence. Sen. Lanza and others are not comfortable with the amount of religious exemptions in the bill, which are already quite broad.
The Catholic Church has roared into the debate today, with Archbishop Timothy Dolan seeming to do all in his power to keep this bill from happening. The Advocate reports that Dolan says, “There’s a good chance that this is not gonna pass this years.”
The two Republicans who plan to vote for the measure seem to be coming from very different places. Sen. Roy McDonald gave a press response for the ages, vigorously defending his yes vote by saying “Fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.” On the other hand, Capitol Confidential just tweeted that his fellow Republican Sen. Jim Alesi, said today, “It’s not my job to lobby my colleagues.”
There is one thing which both the pro-and-anti gay marriage sides seem to agree upon: they want a vote today. They don’t want to give the other side the weekend to build up more opposition.
Natasha Dillon of Queer Rising spoke to us by phone from outside Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ office. “They’re in conference right now [and] they have to vote today,” she says. “You can’t delay this any longer. They can get to all three bills [gay marriage, tax cap, rent control] today. There is no other option. They can’t keep stalling on this. They have to vote.”