NEW YORK – Senate Republicans continued to meet behind closed doors Wednesday morning to discuss whether to bring the same-sex marriage bill to the floor for a vote as protesters against gay marriage lined the hallways outside the GOP conference room.
The Senate is one vote short of passing a bill that would legalize gay marriage in New York. The bill was stalled as lawmakers spent the last few days hammering out agreements on rent controls and property tax caps.
As of Wednesday noon, the ominus bill was not yet completed but if it goes to print then a vote on same-sex marriage could take place today.
Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long urged Senate Republicans Wednesday morning to not bring the bill, which has 31 committed votes, to the floor.
"Once again, we urge you to stand strong for traditional marriage and not put a bill on the floor. Any bill that will harm our state should not be allowed a vote," Long said.
Long and the Conservative Party has threatened to withhold endorsement from any Republican senator who votes in favor of same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, as the Senate GOP conferenced in their chamber, protesters were holding signs, singing Christian hymns and praying that Republicans will not bring the gay marriage bill to a vote.
The Senate was supposed to break for summer recess Monday but ongoing talks over the three top issues, rent control, property tax caps and gay marriage, kept the legislators in Albany. The extended legislative session could end Wednesday or Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday evening he believes the Senate will hold a vote on gay marriage before leaving the Capitol, according to the Albany Times Union.
Several undecided Republican senators, including Greg Ball of Patterson, have said they would not vote for the bill unless it included religious protections.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos who has been negotiating with Cuomo on religious protections in the gay marriage bill told reporters before heading into the GOP conference Wednesday that the governor at first didn't want a floor vote unless the bill had enough votes to be approved but that’s not the case now.
"The governor at one time said he didn’t want a vote on marriage unless it was going to pass. So he’s changed his tune. But we haven’t conferenced that issue and at some point we will," Skelos said.
The measure passed the New York State Assembly 80-63 last week.