Down To The Wire On Marriage Equality In New York

June 20, 2011 6:18 a.m.

The New York legislature entered its final day of the session Monday, with lawmakers and gay rights advocates continuing to pursue a deal to pass marriage equality legislation in the state Senate.

The New York Post reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) are closing in on a deal to get the legislation passed. The Senate Republicans had still not decided whether to bring the legislation up for a vote at the end of last week, as some in the caucus pushed for more specific exemptions for religious groups.The New York Times explains:

Talks between Mr. Cuomo and Republican senators are said to focus on a relatively narrow issue. The legislation proposed by the governor includes exemptions for religious organizations and affiliated charities or nonprofit groups to protect them from litigation if they refuse to host or provide services for same-sex weddings.

But Cuomo said Friday that he’s confident about an agreement. “That is a very important point,” he said in a press conference, “and I am as equally concerned about that as I am in achieving marriage equality. That was the main — and that is the main — area of concern for the senators, Republicans senators. We’ve had good meetings. We’ve had good discussions. I believe we can address their concerns without going over the line.”

There are 31 Senators who currently say they will support the bill if Republicans bring it up, including two Republicans and three Democrats who were undecided up until last week. The bill needs just one more vote to pass.

CNN reports that though the legislative session ends Monday, Cuomo has the option of extending it, and indicated last week he would do that if necessary. “There is a full agenda for both the Assembly and Senate to accomplish,” he said, “and the legislative session will not end, either through regular or special session, until the people’s business is done.”

The state Assembly passed the bill last Wednesday by a vote of 80-63, after Cuomo sent the bill to the legislature on Tuesday.

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