Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos Says No Gay Marriage Vote Friday
ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — After a closed door meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos emerged to say that there would be no vote at least until Monday.
The legislative session is still set for Albany to end on Monday. However, it could be extended for days or a week or even longer as issues such as rent control and property taxes remain unresolved.
On the streets of Midtown, some that spoke with 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck said they were still hopeful the bill would pass.
“I’d be ecstatic about it. I think that gay people should have the same rights that everybody else does. I don’t think that marriage is a religious rite. I think it’s a life right,” one man said.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans said protecting religious groups that won’t perform gay weddings or offer services to gay couples was a major factor in their refusal so far to bring same-sex marriage to a vote.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Continues To Lobby For Same-Sex Marriage
Gov. Cuomo’s bill already has some protections. No clergy would be forced to preside over a gay marriage.
Cuomo has been lobbying individual senators in a quest to secure what appears to be one more vote needed to legalize gay marriage and deliver a major win for the national effort.
The Democrat met with three Republican senators in his Capitol office Thursday.
“The meetings are ongoing,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto, putting no end date to the closed-door sessions.
“I’m still a ‘no,’ I’m still talking to people, so I’ll let that speak for itself,” said Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island after leaving Cuomo’s office Thursday night.
He said he continues to seek further protections for religious groups opposed to gay marriage so they can’t be prosecuted for discrimination if they refuse to allow their property or services to be used during gay marriage ceremonies.
Lanza wouldn’t say if he believes the bill will get a floor vote.
Republican Sens. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie and Kemp Hannon of Long Island attended the hour-long meeting but would not comment on it. Saland has said he’s undecided.
Skelos did not say when negotiations might end or when the conference could vote to send the bill up for a vote, or kill it. The Democrat-led Assembly has already passed it.
Nationally, attention has been riveted on New York state since early in the week when Cuomo announced he had won more votes in favor of the bill.
“It creates a lot of anxiety while you’re waiting to find out if you’ll be granted the right that your family, friends and even your own parents took for granted,” said Ron Zacchi of Marriage Equality USA at the Capitol in Albany.
Social media sites buzzed with meeting-by-meeting updates by advocates.
The bill has been gaining the support of celebrities including Lady Gaga who took to Twitter and Facebook urging her “little monsters” to call state senators and help legalize gay marriage.
“I am so proud to be a New Yorker! One step closer to equality and toward the legalization of Gay Marriage in America. Full Equality. Unity,” Lady Gaga wrote on the social networking sites.
She even included the phone number to Sen. Mark Grisanti and told her fans to leave him a message and ask to vote yes for the Marriage Equality Act.
Earlier, Senate Democrat leader John Sampson of Brooklyn accused the Republican majority of being more concerned with protecting its majority power and its conservative voter base than approving what he calls a civil right supported by most New Yorkers.
“This is what the public wants,” said Sampson, who as the former majority leader brought a similar gay marriage bill to the floor in 2009 only to see it defeated.
“This vote should come to the floor irrespective of political consequences because I think that is what the concern is at this point and time,” Sampson said. “Who do you represent?”
Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco of Onondaga County in a separate interview said such a political concern is a factor in whether he will vote to bring the bill to the floor, where Democrats and two Republicans — Sens. James Alesi of Monroe County and Roy McDonald of Saratoga County — appear to have brought the issue to within one vote of passage.
“If you are a member of a team, and you want to decide as a team what the best thing is to do for the conference as a whole, then you should do it as a team,” DeFrancisco said.
“I can understand anxiety as a true struggle of conscience,” said Jason Ganns, 27, an Albany accountant who is gay and lobbying for same-sex marriage. “I don’t necessarily understand the political anxiety. It could cost a Republican his or her job, but I don’t see the logic of fighting for a job that you are not doing.”
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