NEW YORK – Hundreds of protesters against the legalization of gay marriage in New York jammed the hallways of the Capitol building Monday as Republican senators privately discussed whether to bring the same-sex marriage issue to a floor vote.
Demonstrators opposing gay marriage, including Christian ministers, African-American church members and Tea Party organizers, outnumbered those in support of the controversial bill, which has 31 votes and needs one more vote to pass the New York Senate. The measure was approved by the New York State Assembly last Wednesday, 80 to 63.
Republicans have been mulling over same-sex marriage bill in private caucus meetings since last week. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo have met with Republicans to lobby for enough votes to pass the bill.
No compromise was reached Friday and talks continued Monday. The legislature session ends Monday but ongoing negotiations could extend the session and keep legislators in Albany throughout this week.
Protesters against same-sex marriage on Monday sang hymns like "Victory is Mine," chanted "God says no," and held signs like "Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman." Some clustered in small prayer circles to pray for the rejection of the gay marriage bill in New York.
Former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree also joined the demonstration at the Capitol Monday and lent his star power to the fight against gay marriage in New York. The Super Bowl XLII football champion helped hand-deliver 63,000 petitions against same-sex marriage to Senate Republicans.
Last week, Tyree appeared in a National Organization of Marriage video saying that same-sex marriage would lead to "anarchy."
On Monday, he spoke to reporters in Albany saying that gay marriage is bad for society and for Christians.
"A moral fiber of a country is its laws, which is the essential make-up of government," said Tyree.
"Once you allow same-sex marriage, it opens up the door for a continued softening of the backbone of our society which will eventually, for generations to come, open the door for – who knows? – polygamy, and all other types of the sorts," he said.
"And in the sense where people do have strong Christian convictions, that takes away in a sense our religious freedoms because none of the things we believe essentially lines up with same-sex marriage."
The Rev. Willie Stovall, a Baptist minister from Albany, said marriage between a man and woman should not be disputed because "it's what the Bible says." He sang hymns outside of office of Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island.
"He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," said Willie, according to Wall Street Journal's Metropolis blog. "And when God said, ‘Go out and multiply,’ ain’t no man with another man who can replenish the earth."
According to media reports, Skelos has been discussing with Cuomo religious exemptions that could sway Republicans to give the bill enough votes to pass.
Several Republican senators have been identified as swing votes, including Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, Andrew Lanza of Long Island, and Greg Ball of Patterson.
Ball, who said he wouldn't vote for the bill without added religious protections, is asking for feedback via Twitter on how to vote on gay marriage. On Saturday, the undecided Republican senator tweeted through his Ball4NY account: "Opening up the discussion! So, if you were me, how would you vote on gay marriage? Yes or No?"
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, an advocacy organization against gay marriage in New York and around the country, told The Christian Post on Monday that he considered all four undecided Republican senators "critical votes."
He also urged people to contact Democratic senators Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, Joseph Addabbo of Howard Beach and Shirley Huntley of Jamaica. All three previously voted against the gay marriage measure but flipped their votes in favor, citing increasing support from their constituents.
"They have come out said they would vote 'yes.' They are the Democrats who voted 'no' last year. If they can hear from their constituents, maybe they will do the right thing," said Brown.
It is fourth time since 2009 that New York legislators have considered a bill legalizing gay marriage. If the legislation on gay marriage is approved, New York would be the sixth and most populous state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Polls have indicated that New Yorkers favor gay marriage but opponents say the issue would not be approved if put before voters in the state. No state has ever approved gay marriage when the issue was placed on the ballot.