Reporting Tony Aiello
ALBANY (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York Republican state senator who opposes gay marriage said Thursday night the bill is likely to pass if it comes to a full Senate vote.
Sen. Greg Ball, who once said he could be persuaded to vote for gay marriage, said he will vote against the measure.
Ball said negotiations for additional protections against discrimination lawsuits for religious groups who oppose gay marriage are better but not everything he had hoped for. He and several other Republicans have sought the additional protections.
Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos ended Thursday’s session just before 11 p.m. for what he called the health of the membership and those watching for what many consider a pivotal vote in the national movement to legalize gay marriage.
The Republican-led Senate will reconvene Friday morning. At that time, they could start to pass a backlog of more mundane bills, then consider the gay marriage bill.
The plan is for the Senate to return to open session at 10 a.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and at least two other lawmakers said they were besieged by offensive posts, forcing them to curtail comments.
Dolan has blogged that he loves gay people who want to get married but still ardently opposes gay marriage. The church says Dolan’s been one of the targets of cyber abuse and vulgarities prompted the banning of some commenters on the Catholic church’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Skelos, who opposes gay marriage, closed down the comments on his Facebook page after supporters used vulgarities and posted the home addresses of senators opposed to gay marriage.
Democratic Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island, who supports gay marriage, said she also had had an onslaught of offensive postings by opponents of same-sex marriage.
The waiting game dragged on earlier Thursday, with the big question being whether or not the GOP-controlled Senate would actually allow a vote on same-sex marriage.
Protesters lined the halls of the Senate, chanting, watching and wondering how the hot-button issue will be resolved, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
All week they’ve been inescapable, activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate. They have been passionate and vocal, but united in their curiosity. What will the state Senate do?
“It wouldn’t make sense to me for them to wait this out, listen to all these people and then not vote on it. I think something’s gonna happen tonight or tomorrow,” gay marriage supporter Geoff Corey said earlier Thursday.
In the middle of the protests, the capitol is consumed by a guessing game as to which Senate Republican might be willing to be the deciding vote in favor of same-sex marriage.
Among Democrats in the Senate, 29 of 30 have said they’ll vote for gay marriage, meaning only three Republicans need to vote for it to pass in the 62-seat chamber. Two have already committed to voting for it. There are only a small handful of senators, maybe as few as two, who are undecided. Aiello reports speculation continues to focus on four senators — Mark Grisanti from Buffalo, Stephen Saland from Poughkeepsie, Andrew Lanza from Staten Island and John Flanagan from Suffolk County.
GOP senators have met privately to discuss and debate for the last several days.
“I suspect it will be a lengthy conference, a thoughtful conference as we always do, and then we’ll make a decision,” Skelos said earlier.
Opponents promise to work to defeat Republicans who support gay marriage, as many chanted “if you vote yes, we will vote you out!” on Thursday.
The Millers of Mahopac came to lobby their senator to vote “no.”
“Marriage is this thing that ties a father to his children, this thing that ties a man to his wife,” Chris Miller said.
Whether New York will expand that traditional definition or not remains the most heated Albany debate of the year.
Same-sex marriage was a prime topic Thursday night in Midtown as President Barack Obama held his first fundraiser focused on the gay community. The president praised New York lawmakers for debating historic legislation to legalize gay marriage. The president said that’s what democracies are supposed to do, and that marriage has traditionally been decided by the states.
Obama also said he believes that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country.
But as expected, Obama stopped short Thursday of endorsing gay marriage.
Conservative Party Chairman and gay marriage opponent Mike Long, took comfort as the clock ticked away in Albany on Thursday, but now it appears the sides will be back at it on Friday.
WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reports: Long Says Republican Senators Will Suffer If Bill Goes Through
“My hope is that there’s enough turmoil within the ranks of the Senate majority and I believe very firmly that the majority of the senators do not want to see this bill hit the floor because they clearly understand that the people who are going to take the hit on this is the Republican senators,” said Long.
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