After an effort to force a vote in New York's Senate to legalize same-sex marriage appeared all but lost in an extraordinary session, Gov. David Paterson is placing the bill on agendas for special sessions on Monday and Tuesday.
Paterson is urging a vote even if the bill he strongly supports fails. He notes that all civil rights fights have grown from setbacks, and decried cowardice in the face of failure.
"It is an issue that in many ways speaks to the very foundation of our democracy," Paterson said on Monday, The Associated Press reported. "I would like it addressed as immediately as possible, because justice delayed is justice denied."
Hundreds of gay New Yorkers and gay rights activists had converged on Albany chanting and waving signs to press the gay marriage issue.
“This is about our family," said Scott Parrish, of Sunnyside, Queens, who added the time has finally come for gay marriage in New York. "We're here. We pay taxes. We support each other as families and we expect the same back from our government."
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also weighed in with her support on Monday.
"We won't have hopes dashed," she said. "And we'll have the most fabulous weddings in the history of New York."
The measure has already passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly and its future rests in the state Senate.
Despite Gov. Paterson’s support, Senate Democrats did not have enough votes to send him a bill last spring, according to reports. The issue was then placed on the backburner during the Democrats’ recent internal power struggle.
Last week, Maine's voters overturned a decision by the state's lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage, a move that buoyed opponents across the country.
But Paterson’s renewed call for gay marriage and Republican leader Dean Skelos’ recent decision to release his members from having to vote as a bloc has renewed hopes the issue will at least come to a vote here.
"I think a lot of senators woke up this morning and realized a vote on marriage equality is real and could come tomorrow," Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle told the AP. "I believe, when this comes to the floor, these individuals will not be able to vote against their friends and their family."
Gov. Paterson also announced Monday a proposal to close the state's $3.2 billion budget deficit by the end of the year.
Paterson is asking for $686 million in education cuts, a three percent decline. He's also calling for $471 million savings in health care spending.
"Frankly, we are running out of money," he said.
The Democratic-led Senate has opposed Paterson’s proposed budget cuts.