Albany, NY - UPDATE: Senators Try Get Gay Vote To Floor As Silver Needs To Observe Shabbos
Albany, NY - Legislators worked methodically Friday to clear away a raft of standard bills to make way for a pivotal gay marriage vote as advocates and Republicans who hold the key agreed on one thing: They don’t want the much-anticipated decision to drag on much longer.
Security was tight in the Capitol as opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage clogged the marble hallways after a week of rising tensions and great expectations.
Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous said the 32 Republican senators who hold the majority in that chamber could meet behind closed doors later Friday to decide whether to send the bill to the floor for a vote after they get through other bills.
Libous, a Broome County Republican, said GOP senators don’t want to further stretch the 2011 session, which was supposed to have ended Monday. He said that if the caucus sends the gay marriage bill out, it could be voted on Friday.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is an Orthodox Jew and observes the Sabbath, which means he won’t work between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday. The Assembly is expected to approve several amendments to provide greater protection for religious groups from discrimination lawsuits as a result of a gay marriage law.
There is acute interest nationally in what happens in New York, heightened by the timing: This weekend, events are scheduled around the country to celebrate gay pride, culminating Sunday with parades in New York City, San Francisco and other cities. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo very publicly attended last year’s gay pride parade in New York with his daughters, which drew sharp criticism from his Republican opponent in the race for governor.
Senate Democrats say the Republicans are mismanaging important bills, including gay marriage.
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