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NY Senate Not Expected to Vote on Gay Marriage

Door left open for possible vote in near future


By Michael Gormley, Associated Press Writer

After weeks of uncertainty and pleas for action by Gov. David Paterson, New York’s Senate wasn’t expected to vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage during Tuesday’s special session.

Speaking after the Democratic majority met behind closed doors, Sen. Neil Breslin of Albany County said flatly the bill wouldn’t get to the floor, though it could come up later if other special sessions are called.


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Gov. David Paterson speaks to a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 9, 2009.  Paterson asked legislators to support painful midyear spending cuts to help close a $3 billion budget deficit. A special session is planned for Tuesday to enact any cuts and possibly consider other measures, including legalization of same-sex marriage. Behind Paterson, from left, are Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Gov. David Paterson speaks to a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Paterson asked legislators to support painful midyear spending cuts to help close a $3 billion budget deficit. A special session is planned for Tuesday to enact any cuts and possibly consider other measures, including legalization of same-sex marriage. Behind Paterson, from left, are Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Sen. David Valesky of central New York also said it appeared the measure wouldn’t get to a long-awaited vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Thomas Duane of Manhattan, refused to comment even on whether he wants it to get to the floor, where approval is uncertain.

When asked if he feels the bill will eventually be approved, he said: “I’m very optimistic.”

Sen. Martin Malave Dilan of Brooklyn said the measure could still come up later Tuesday, but it wasn’t scheduled for the Senate’s initial meeting.

The Senate convened and adjourned after less than 30 minutes, the vast majority of which was spent honoring members who were military veterans. Same-sex marriage wasn’t debated or on the agenda. The senators returned to closed-door session and were expected to return later in the day, but gay marriage wasn’t on a tentative agenda for items that could come up.

Senators will have to return to session at some point Tuesday, if only to gavel out and fulfill their obligation under the governor’s call for an extraordinary session.

Paterson said Monday he hoped the bill would be voted on this week, indicating it might see action after Tuesday’s session. He has said he would sign the measure into law and pressed senators to follow the lead of the Assembly, which passed it earlier this year. Legislators said Tuesday they may return next week as well as in December.

The Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said he believes there are still 35 or 36 votes against the measure in the Senate. Thirty-two votes are required to pass a bill in the 62-seat house.

The leading opponent of the measure in the Senate, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat and conservative minister, said he was prepared to strongly oppose the bill and the governor, who promised its passage this year. Diaz said he canceled a cruise with his wife this week — Tuesday is her birthday — and lost a deposit “because of this governor.”

The measure wasn’t brought to the floor after the Assembly acted in the spring because there weren’t enough votes in the 32-30 Democratic majority to pass it. A few Democrats opposed the bill on religious grounds.

It’s likely some Republican votes will be needed for passage. Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County has released his members to act as they see fit, freeing them from the usual practice of bloc voting.

 

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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