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The critical gay marriage bill in New York State is not any closer to becoming law despite plenty of back room dealings on Monday. A three hour conference seemingly produced no results in Albany and the push to vote on the bill was delayed for another day.
Protesters from both side of the issue descended on Albany in relatively peaceful protests. The demonstrations Monday included a group saying the Rosary in the nearby Capitol Park. Inside the building’s marble halls, opponents chanted “God says no!” while supporters countered with “God is love!” They sang hymns such as “Victory is Mine” and songs like “God Bless America” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Religion was used on both sides but more often than not clergy opposed the bill. However, not all religious leaders believe that gay marriage should remain illegal.
“All of our faith traditions teach that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity and equal protection under the law,” said the Rev. Tom Goodhue, president of the Long Island Council of Churches. He was working with the New Yorkers United for Marriage, an advocacy group allied with the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. “The governor’s bill specifically provides broad protection for religious freedom.”
Gov. Cuomo has been an outspoken supporter of gay marriage and some Republicans have also thrown their support behind the measure. If New York approves gay marriage, many believe that it could be the turning point for the entire nation. New York tried two years ago and the Senate voted it down. Since then, efforts have failed in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maryland. Advocates hope a “yes” vote in the nation’s third-most populous state will jumpstart the effort.
Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx minister who has led the opposition, said he now considers the legalization of same-sex marriage inevitable in New York, but he’s unsure how the Senate will vote. He said Cuomo is exerting unprecedented pressure to get Republicans to approve his bill.
The measure passed overwhelmingly in the state Assembly last week. It appears that it is one vote short of passing the Senate at this point. Republican State Senator Greg Ball asked on Twitter how he should vote on the bill. He posed the question to his followers Friday, saying, “Opening up the discussion! So, if you were me, how would you vote on gay marriage? Yes or No?” On Monday, the Putnam County lawmaker said the feedback trended toward voting yes. Ball has stated he refuses to budge until more religious exemptions are included.
Lawmakers will continue to scramble to pass the measure before the end of the legislative session. More debate is expected on Tuesday before a Senate vote.