Gay Marriage Bill Faces Uncertain Fate in Albany

Gay rights advocates have launched a final push to win support of a same-sex marriage bill in New York, as state lawmakers are slated to gather tomorrow to vote on the measure.

Gov. David Paterson has called legislators to Albany for the vote -- saying he believes the measure will win enough support to sign into law.  Speaking to a joint session today, he urged lawmakers to vote in favor the bill, saying gay and lesbian New Yorkers "are part of our family....they should be treated as such."

Despite the push, sources said negotiations are expected to go late into Monday night as Democratic leaders discuss whether to put the bill to a full vote in the Senate without knowing whether it will have enough support to pass.

The State Assembly passed the bill earlier this year.

Advocates on both sides of the issue lobbied senators over the weekend, but it was still unclear whether the measure could earn the 32 votes needed for approval. Democrats hold a shaky 32-to-30 majority in the Senate -- and the measure does not have full support across the party line.

Those who favor the bill believe now might be the best time to try and push through the measure, as all 212 seats in the Legislature and the governor's post are up for election in 2010.  

The possible vote tomorrow will come just a week after Maine narrowly rejected its own version of a same-sex marriage bill.

According to The New York Times, supporters of the bill in Albany believe they can count on about 25 votes for the legislation at this time.

“The stakes are much higher now, following Maine, and it would be an enormous boost to the movement to prevail in New York,” said Matt Foreman, a gay rights advocate who has served as the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s leading gay rights group told the Times.

But, he added, “if we don’t win marriage in New York in this special session, it’s going to be a very hard lift next year.”

Opponents of the measure believe they will prevail.

“I think we’re starting from a position of strength,” said Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. “I don’t believe they have the votes, and it’s an act of desperation. Our position is to maintain the votes we have, and people are certainly in contact with our senators and we are encouraging that. This is not going to pass," he told the Times.

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