N.Y. Gay Marriage Vote Nears; Opponents Keep Up Pressure

The stakes are high for New York as state senators could cast their vote Monday on whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelo said Republican senators were discussing the gay marriage bill on Friday and would continue the talks on Monday. But lawmakers are scheduled to break for summer recess on Monday, and since Republicans hold the majority in the state Senate, an actual vote could be delayed.

The 62-member Senate is split on the measure but two Republican senators have announced they will back the bill, while one Democrat senator still opposes it. It is reported that the proponents of the bill need only one more vote to get it passed.

“Obviously, it’s crunch time right now,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, on CNN over the weekend.

He rejected the notion that this is “a done deal” as some, including NY State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, believe it to be.

“There are thousands of calls going into senators,” Brown told CNN. “The legislature should not be deciding something as important as the future of marriage. The voters of New York should have the same ability as 31 other states. [In] every single state that this has been put to a vote, the voters directly have said ‘no.’”

"We never lost a public vote on marriage in any state," he has stressed.

The Democrat-led Assembly approved the gay marriage measure 80-63 last week.

"Only second-class states have second-class citizens," said assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat who voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage, in a recent interview.

Despite a recent Quinnipiac poll revealing that a majority (58 percent) of New Yorkers are in favor of legalizing marriage for gays and lesbians, traditional marriage supporter Brown contended that similar polls were seen in California and Maine, yet amendments protecting traditional marriage were passed by voters in both states.

O’Donnell, who is openly gay, made the argument on CNN that giving marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples will not affect anyone else other than the couple involved.

Lawsuits in Illinois, however, prove him wrong, Brown cited.

“In Illinois, we’ve heard these same arguments – ‘it’s not going to affect anyone other than the couples getting married.’ Wrong. In Illinois right now, there are three lawsuits because the Catholic church, its adoption agencies are being told that they have to shut down if they will not adopt children to same-sex couples. It’s as simple as that.”

If the Marriage Equality Act is approved, New York could become the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage, which has become one of the most contentious social issues in the world today.

The controversial bill was introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who during the past week has lobbied for the measure, saying same-sex marriage is "a matter of principle, not politics."

"This state has a proud tradition and a proud legacy as the progressive capital of the nation," he said to reporters on Friday.

"We led the way, and it's time for New York to lead the way once again."

Political analysts say Cuomo is able to freely promote gay marriage because he holds office in a relatively liberal state.

It has been reported that U.S. governors supporting same-sex marriage appear to be in the minority. Among them are Democrats Deval Patrick in neighboring Massachusetts and Jerry Brown in California.

So far, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, and several other U.S. states allow civil unions.

Gov. Cuomo told lawmakers on Friday that he would be open to amending the bill proposal to “include more specific exemptions for religious groups.”

The bill does not compel any member of the clergy to conduct same-sex marriages, but some Republican lawmakers are concerned the legal protection is not strong enough.

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