Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York Marriage Equality Vote: 7 p.m. Update

I said to my pal Leo earlier today, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to celebrate Gay Pride weekend in NYC with a victory for marriage equality?" I'm certain the notion is shared by hundreds of thousands of civil rights proponents.

Here's the latest on New York's headlining issue. At 5 p.m. the New York Senate took a two-hour recess, craving a sack of White Castle burgers... Oh, wait, that was speculation on my part.

Towleroad.com, drawing on numerous sources, reports there's a push to finish the session tonight, with voting on a marriage bill to come only after a number of other issues are addressed.

Reuters adds that while the bill technically needs just one more vote to pass the 62-member Senate, political analysts speculate that no single senator is willing to cast the deciding vote.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the Times Union's Capitol Confidential (my hour-by-hour authority on the proceedings) that the latest version of the bill contains religious protections for religious organizations, which Republicans had asked for.

Senator James Alesi, one of the lone Republicans supporting the marriage equality bill, believes it has become such a hot button issue, that "collectively it would be difficult not to bring it to the floor" during this session. "I think the repercussions would not be worth not bringing it to the floor.”

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent writes in The Washington Post that Republicans are struggling to maintain their fundamental argument that marriage is a religious institution and not a simple matter of governmental civil rights.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom To Marry, tells Sargent, “The government already issues marriage licenses and regulates the legal status of marriage. This is about removing a discriminatory restruction on couples who are in love and want legal commitments to match.”

The Senate is expected to continue the debate past midnight. It sure is nice to see them working for a living.