Since Monday, the reports on when New York's state senate would bring a bill allowing same-sex marriage to a vote have been largely vague and nonspecific: soon. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the state legislature's session beyond its Monday midnight deadline in order to allow time for the same-sex marriage bill--as well as some other legislative business such as taxi restrictions, rent regulations, power plant permits and union deal--to proceed to a vote. According to an unnamed Republican senator in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Cuomo will not let the lawmakers rest until the issue is decided: "I see it coming to the floor. People who don't understand the process are thinking, 'Don't bring it up and it will go away for a year.'"
If the session ends without a vote on the measure, Cuomo is expected to order the legislature back for a special session. But, everyone seems at the end of their rope. Protesters have packed the halls of the Capitol since last week, singing hymns and holding signs. One unnamed Senator reportedly said, "I've heard so many hymns I don't have to go to church for 10 years." The New York Times is reporting that lawmakers and their aids have run out of clean clothes. At this point, the vote on same-sex marriage seems to be all that stand in the way of them going home. Even Greg Ball, an undecided Republican senator from the Hudson Valley has decided that. "There should definitely be a vote, up or down." said Ball. "We live in a democracy."
Another undecided Republican Senator, Andrew Lanza from Staten Island, offers an encouraging outlook on the bill moving forward soon. Both men have pushed for clearer language around religious restrictions, and Lanza for one, looks like he may soon be swayed. "We're close on language that I believe satisfactorily addresses the issue," said Lanza late Wednesday night.
With other outstanding legislation seemingly out of the way, that religious restriction language seems to be the final roadblock to a vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said before that he will not let the bill go to the floor unless he's sure it will pass. Cuomo stands one vote shy of an assured victory in the Republican-majority Senate, and the undecided Senators have been working on amendments to language in the bill that would ensure religious organizations would not be punished for not abiding by the law, if it's passed. Advocates for the legislation do not disagree.
"No church should be forced to marry anybody they don't want to marry," said Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry on Anderson Cooper's show Wednesday night. "A church is as free to not marry a gay couple as they are to not marry an interfaith couple … Everybody agrees that this bill like any bill has to have a significant balance between non-discrimination on the one hand and religious freedom on the other hand."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.