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NY State Senate Currently Debating Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

(ALBANY) Although the vote on same-sex marriage had been previously delayed and reported to have been postponed until the end of the year, NY State Senators are currently deliberating the bill and are expected to vote at the end of today’s session. The vote is expected to come on the heels of the passage of a $2.8 billion deficit package.

Governor David A. Paterson, who originally placed the bill on the agenda, intends to sign it into law immediately if it passes. This would make New York the sixth state in which marriage between same-sex couples is legalized. If it fails, this would be another setback for gay right advocates, but unlike other states, New York does not have a referendum process that allows voters to overturn an act of the Legislature.

The vote was initially to take place on November 10.

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle, said, “There is never a wrong time or inconvenient time to debate human rights legislation because it’s always the right time. As long as a group of New Yorkers are being denied equal rights, addressing issues like marriage equality must always be a priority.

“It’s now time that each of the 62 State Senators vote their conscience on this bill that has great implications for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in all parts of the state.”

Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat, although optimistic the bill would pass, said, “It depends on whether Republican votes are delivered.”

A few Republican votes are expected to be delivered but it is unclear yet whether those votes will offset the handful of “no” votes expected from certain Democrats.

Democratic Senator and Majority Leader, Pedro Espada Jr., stated on the Senate floor today his support for same sex marriage is not echoed by his constituents. “If this vote was taken in my district today, same-sex marriage would fail,” he said, but urged senators not to cave to ignorance “or pander to that in our communities.”

"This bill hurts no one, but gives the American idea of equality to many, many people" - NY State Senator Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman represents the Bronx and Manhattan. "You don't have to be gay to understand..." he continued.

Other Democrats added to the colorful debate, making it clear this debate hits home for many others who have experienced discrimination in their own lives.

Senator Eric Adams, an African American, felt that personal connection. "The same statements being made about Tom Duane (one of his senate collegues that is gay) falling in love with someone … that's the same comment that my grandmother received in Alabama when she wanted to marry my grandfather. And they used religion. … For interracial couples to fall in love, it was an abomination, it would destroy the institution of marriage. This is what we heard. … I know some people say, 'Don't try to make this a civil rights issue.' I hear that comment. … I respect the opinion of my colleagues that have religious beliefs. But when I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out."

As she choked back tears, Senator Liz Krueger made her own appeal to her collegues. “I’m a woman and a Jew so I know about discrimination. I don’t understand how anyone can vote no.”