Friday, June 24, 2011

New York Marriage Bill Update

Senate Republicans have an opportunity to truly represent the citizens of New York and be role models for the rest of the country. Polls show that in New York and Nationally more people support gay marriage than oppose! I have to say I am not sure they are interested in what the majority of NY voters favor as much as being reelected! Keeping my fingers crossed that we will hear today and that justice will prevail!

From the AP.

A coalition of gay rights advocates is demanding that New York's Senate allow a vote on the legalization of gay marriage.

New Yorkers United for Marriage says it's the Senate's obligation to the people to allow a vote. Advocates had hoped for a vote days ago.

The Senate's Republican majority is returning to closed-door meetings Friday morning, but has several other bills to consider first. The majority is expected to take on gay marriage later in the day.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos ended the latest marathon session just before 11 p.m. Thursday out of concerns for his members' health.

The Senate has also directed all senators to use back hallways to avoid the constant presence of loud demonstrations from both sides. Several Republicans are well into their 70s.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

After New York's Senate ended its session for the "health of members" following the latest marathon session on Thursday, the Republican majority plans to again take up a gay marriage bill that could be pivotal moment in the national gay rights movement.

Gay rights supporters have secured legal marriage status for same-sex couples in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and the District of Columbia, and are hoping a gain in New York will give them greater momentum.

On Thursday, Senate leader Dean Skelos abruptly ended the session just before 11 p.m. as his members were awaiting the printing of bills not expected until after 4 a.m.

When lawmakers return Friday they still face several other major bills ranging from a public college tuition increase to a landmark tax cap before they can consider making New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

At a fundraiser in New York City Thursday night, President Barack Obama praised New York lawmakers for taking up the issue but cautioned the gay community that getting the right to marry would take time. Obama has said his position is evolving but he still supports civil unions.

"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country," the president said at the fundraiser, his first geared specifically to the gay community. Obama said progress will be slower than some people want, but he added that he was confident that there will be a day "when every single American, gay or straight or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, is free to live and love as they see fit."

Democrats in New York weren't happy with the pace in the Senate.

"This isn't stalling, it's a complete work stoppage by the Senate Republicans," said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Democratic minority that supports gay marriage.

Sen. Kevin Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, called the Republicans' handling of gay marriage "amateurish," but forgivable if same-sex marriage is eventually passed.

"As long as we get married, we'll be OK with the fumbling on the first date," Parker said.

There was no immediate comment from the Republican majority, which has been furiously negotiating major bills with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Assembly's Democratic majority.

The gay marriage bill has passed in the Assembly, but several amendments have been proposed since then to better protect religious groups from discrimination lawsuits and to entice Republican senators to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

Of those places where gay marriage is legal, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are the only ones that don't allow at least limited religious exemptions.

Skelos, who opposes gay marriage, has said his Republican caucus will have to meet behind closed doors to decide whether to move the bill to the floor or kill it. [Copyright 2011 The Associated Press]

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