Friday, June 24, 2011

New York State Senate Passing Marriage Equality Act: UPDATE: Passed 33-29

The political maneuverings are over and the State Senate finally appears to be on the cusp of passing the Marriage Equality Act. It appears that the measure has sufficient votes to pass after Republican Stephen Saland said he would vote to approve the measure. (Watch it as it happens).

Watch live streaming video from nysenate at

If the vote goes as expected, it would appear that the vote will be 36-26 in favor of the bill that would legalize gay marriage and provide protections from liability for religious groups that object to gay marriage. 32 votes are necessary for passage.
The Senate took up the measure just before 10 p.m., and the Senate galleries were packed with gay couples in support of the bill and religious opponents of it.

Senator Stephen Saland, a Poughkeepsie Republican, became the critical 32nd vote, telling his colleagues in an emotional address that he believed the issue came down to a question of equality.

“I know my vote is a vote of conscience,” he told a hushed chamber. “I am at peace with my vote. It was a struggle. It was an extraordinary deliberation.”

The measure was to be the final act of this year’s legislative session, and lawmakers earlier Friday barrelled through a variety of votes on university tuition, rent stabilization, and property taxes.

“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,” the majority leader, Senator Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, said in a statement. “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.”

Mr. Skelos, whose caucus had been criticized over the last week for not scheduling a Senate vote on the same-sex marriage measure, said in an interview, “The days of just bottling up things, and using these as excuses not to have votes — as far as I’m concerned as leader, it’s over with.”

The marriage measure, which was proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and approved by the state Assembly, has been publicly endorsed by 31 of the 62 senators — leaving the measure one vote shy of the votes needed for passage in the Senate. The announced supporters include 29 of the 30 Senate Democrats and 2 of the 32 Senate Republicans. Supporters and opponents alike said that anything could happen when the Senate takes its vote.
So, while there are some Republican faithful who are threatening to vote Republicans who approve this measure out of office, Republican leadership sees that as the lesser of evils as denying this measure would likely cost them control over the State Senate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already expressed his intention to sign this bill into law.

The bill passes 33-29, which means that the bill will now go on to Gov. Cuomo for his signature. It will make New York the sixth and largest state to enact gay marriage in the US.

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