Sunday, May 10, 2009

Battle over gay marriage in NY


Pose the question “Would you vote to make same-sex marriage legal?” within the gilded State Senate chamber, and you’ll hear a lot of hedging.

Senator Vincent L. Leibell, a Republican who represents parts of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties, prefers civil unions to marriage. Still, he acknowledged that “society changes over time,” and said that he might not make up his mind until the last minute.

Senator James S. Alesi, a Republican from Rochester who is considered to be another potential swing vote, has issued only vague statements hinting that he is open to voting yes. But he also said, “My public opinion has not been stated yet, and it probably won’t be for a while.”

With six weeks left before the Legislature adjourns for the year, uncertainty surrounds the fate of Gov. David A. Paterson’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage, and lobbying is intensifying.

The measure is expected to easily pass the State Assembly, which approved a similar bill in 2007 and has scheduled its vote for Tuesday.

That means the fate of the legislation will most likely be decided in the closely divided 62-member State Senate.

There, proponents believe they have about two dozen of the 32 votes needed for approval, including those of 19 Democrats who have signed on as sponsors of the measure. [...]

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