It looks like a long-anticipated vote on whether to approve same-sex marriage will be held in the state senate, perhaps tonight. As of now, 31 of the 62 senators have publicly supported it. Two Republicans are counted among those 31, and the search has been on for at least one additional GOP vote. The price for Republican support — at least the price we know of — has been a fairly broad religious exemption. The state house would need to agree to the new language, which seems likely.
The senate majority leader Dean Skelos released a statement tonight announcing a vote and thanking Gov. Cuomo for bending on religious liberty:
After many hours of deliberation and discussion over the past several weeks among the members, it has been decided that same sex marriage legislation will be brought to the full Senate for an up or down vote.
The entire Senate Republican Conference was insistent that amendments be made to the Governor’s original bill in order to protect the rights of religious institutions and not-for-profits with religious affiliations. I appreciate the Governor’s cooperation in working with us to address these important issues and concerns.
As I have said many times, this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate.
I read this between the lines — especially the appreciation for relgious-liberty protection — as a signal that the votes are there to pass the bill. But the New York legislature seems to be an especially treacherous and tortured place, so we’ll see what happens.
UPDATE: New York Senate live stream here. The vote may not occur until late tonight.
SECOND UPDATE: The bill passed, 33-29.