NEW YORK - A Republican senator confirmed Friday afternoon that the gay marriage bill will come to the Senate floor for a vote tonight.
New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos confirmed Friday that the same-sex marriage bill will come to the floor for a vote according to a formal statement:
"After many hours of deliberation and discussion over the past several weeks among the members, it has been decided that same-sex marriage legislation will be brought to the full Senate for an up or down vote," said Skelos of Long Island.
"The entire Senate Republican Conference was insistent that amendments be made to the Governor’s original bill in order to protect the rights of religious institutions and not-for-profits with religious affiliations. I appreciate the Governor’s cooperation in working with us to address these important issues and concerns."
"As I have said many times, this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate."
The news on the gay marriage vote comes after Senate Republicans spent the afternoon in private conference over the issue.
Legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration reached an agreement Friday on a chapter amendment dealing with religious exemptions in the New York gay marriage marriage bill. If the Senate approves the same-sex marriage bill, the Assembly would need to pass the new religious protections language in order for the bill to become law.
The gay marriage bill has 31 committed votes (29 Democrats, 2 Republicans) but 32 votes are needed for the bill's approval.
Several legislators have said the bill has enough votes to pass the Senate but have not revealed who the 32nd vote might be.
The fate of the gay marriage bill rests in the hands of several Republican senators who were considered swing votes.
Sen. Andrew Lanza of Long Island has decided to vote "no" on the bill, according to a statement released Friday afternoon.
Sen. Greg Ball of Patterson said Thursday he would vote "no" on same-sex marriage.
According to Capitol Tonight on its Twitter account, Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo remains undecided.
New York Times Albany Bureau Chief Danny Hakim reported on Twitter that Sen. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie is also undecided, saying, "I'm getting there."
The Conservative Party has threatened to withdraw its nomination from any Republican senator who votes "yes" on the bill.
Last week, the marriage bill was passed by the New York State Assembly for the fourth time since 2009.
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.