Uncertain prospects for gay marriage bill in state Senate
Prospects for a gay marriage bill, back on Tuesday's state senate agenda after being stalled for months by Democratic infighting, remain murky, with leaders struggling to line up the votes.
Sources said negotiations are expected to go late into Monday night and Democratic leaders are mulling whether to put the bill to a floor vote without knowing what the final count will be, a highly unusual move in Albany, where most vote are carefully orchestrated.
“We need to know where they stand on this issue one way or the other,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, board president of Marriage Equality New York.
Gov. David Paterson wants the bill passed and gay rights groups across the state have mounted an all-out lobbying effort, which will culminate today in candlelight vigils, including one in Union Square at 6 p.m.
The bill is unlikely to pass without Republican support, as Democrats hold a slim two-vote edge and a handful have already voiced opposition.
A spokesman for Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), the conference leader, said the senator supports the bill and is working with “members of both conferences on how to bring it to the floor and get it passed.”
The GOP leader, Sen. Dean Skelos, opposes it but has said he won’t tell his members how to vote.
One source close to the senate said prospects for passage have dimmed in recent weeks, as GOP members watched Dede Sozzafava, an upstate Republican congressional candidate, bow out of a special election in the face of a Conservative Party challenger angered, in part, by her support for gay marriage.
“There had been a lot of Republican votes — they may have evaporated,” the source said.
Another source, who worked with the Democrats during this summer’s leadership coup, said the upcoming session will be dominated by fiscal matters.
“Timing is everything in public life and right now they have other priorities,” said the source. “No one’s going to tell them that the budget doesn’t come first.”