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Same Sex Marriage Fight In New York Heats Up

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Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell (D) (who, incidentally, is gay and the brother of Rosie O'Donnell) introduced the Marriage Equality Act Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, saying in a statement: "It is obvious that now, more than ever before, the people cannot, and will not, wait any longer for our government to enshrine equality for all in our state's laws."

O'Donnell has previously sponsored gay marriage legislation three times, all of which managed to pass the Assembly, but failed in the state Senate. The most recent attempt was 2009 -- when the Senate was controlled by Democrats.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has said he wants the state to legalize gay marriage before the end of the legislative session in six weeks, but in a press conference Wednesday said he was wary of introducing legislation before he had shored up the necessary votes.

"We don't want to bring a bill up in the Senate that would fail," he said. "Nobody wants to have an instant replay of last year. It's not having a vote for the sake of the vote."

Cuomo has considerable political capital right now -- as Reuters points out, he recently closed a $10 billion budget gap without having to raise taxes, perhaps giving him some sway over the Republicans for this issue. And a recent poll by NY1-YNN/Marist College found that 72% of registered New York voters viewed him favorably, making him one of the most popular governors in the country.

But aside from Republican opposition, gay marriage advocates will have to contend with a cash infusion from the social conservative group the National Organization of Marriage. NOM announced that it will spend $500,000 on an ad and lobbying campaign against gay marriage in New York, and it will spend and additional $1 million "to support Democratic State Legislators who cast their votes to defend the traditional definition of marriage and oppose any Republican Legislators who vote to redefine marriage."

"It's become quite clear in recent days in New York that Governor Cuomo and same-sex marriage advocates are targeting a select number of Democrat state Senators, as well as some Republicans in their desperate attempt to coerce legislators to support their agenda," Brian Brown, NOM's president, said in a statement.

Despite the opposition, an April Siena poll shows that 58% of registered voters in New York support gay marriage -- an all-time high.