GOP Senators Debate to Allow New York Gay Marriage Vote

NEW YORK – After a meeting with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Thursday morning, Senate Republicans are still not decided on whether to allow a vote on a bill to legalize gay marriage in New York.

The same-sex marriage bill, known as the Marriage Equality Act, was passed by the New York State Assembly Wednesday evening, 80 to 63.

Bloomberg met behind closed doors with Senate Republicans for about an hour in Albany in an effort to persuade them to allow a Senate vote on the issue. The bill is also supported by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who proposed it.

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State Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island, who met with both Bloomberg and Cuomo, said Thursday that no decision has been made on whether a vote would be allowed, according to The Associated Press.

Republican Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn, who joined in the meeting with Bloomberg, said Thursday he expects the gay marriage bill to head to the Senate floor for a vote, but indicated the vote could take place next week, according to AP.

The gay marriage bill is one vote away from being passed in the Senate. In an unofficial headcount, 31 of the 62 Senators said they would approve the legislation. The bill needs 32 votes for approval.

Earlier this week, two Republican senators, Rochester-area Sen. James S. Alesi and Saratoga Sen. Roy J. McDonald, announced that they would join 29 Democrats in supporting the bill. Bronx Sen. Rubén Díaz, who is a Pentecostal minister, is the only Democrat to oppose same-sex marriage.

An estimated four Republican senators say they are undecided on the issue, including Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Andrew Lanza of Statan Island, and Greg Ball of Patterson.

Grisanti, who changed his public position from "no" to "undecided," is considered to be a potential swing vote on the bill. The Republican senator has told the media this week that he has been thinking about the bill "every second of every day in the last couple of weeks."

One of the conflicts that Grisanti can't reconcile is the issue of same-sex marriage with his Catholic faith.

"It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with my own personal belief," he said, according to the Buffalo News.

The same-sex marriage bill in New York has met with strong opposition from many pro-family and religious groups, including the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the New York State Catholic Conference.

Opponents of the bill warn that legalizing gay marriage will have negative consequences on the family, religious freedoms, and the institution of marriage. The groups are calling on its supporters to contact their senators and urge them to vote against the gay marriage bill.

Despite some changes to the bill that would exempt religious institutions from wedding same-sex couples, the New York State Catholic Conference remained against the bill.

“Also as a fundamental principle, we continue to oppose passage of this bill because it would redefine the institution of marriage."

The Rev. Jason McGuire, president of the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, is calling on Christians to be vigilant against the bill. His group is asking constituents to contact Senators Grisanti and Saland and ask them oppose the legislation.

“We are calling for God’s people to pray,” said McGuire, according to CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family. “That’s the bottom line. We recognize the battle is won or lost on our knees.”

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