NY Senate Stalls on Gay Marriage Bill

Vote delayed at least til tomorrow as they argue over religious protections

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jun 20, 2011 5:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – Old-time, backroom politics faced down hundreds of chanting protesters from each side of the highly charged gay marriage debate in New York today as the issue stalled again over whether religious groups could be protected from discrimination charges. After a three-hour conference behind closed doors, while groups from each side waited in a stifling hallway, Senate Republicans emerged without comment. A vote to even move the bill to the floor for final legislative approval was pushed to at least tomorrow as negotiations continue between Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos and Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York's vote is pivotal in the national question over same-sex marriage, an effort that largely stalled in the same room two years ago when the Senate voted it down. Skelos worries a federal judge could strike down flimsy religious protections in the current proposal if a religious group, such as the Knights of Columbus, is sued for discrimination for refusing to provide its hall for a gay wedding. "I think that's critically important," Skelos said. Other opponents were more dire: "If this passes, we will become Sodom and Gomorrah," says one 80-year-old.

Protesters for and against the same-sex marriage bill protest in the halls of the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Monday, June 20, 2011, as Senate Republicans, who can determine the measure's fate, consider...   (Hans Pennink)
Same-sex marriage bill supporter Rabbi Sharon Klienbaum, center, of the Beit Simchat Torah Congregation, speaks to the media as protesters gather both for and against the bill in the halls at the Capitol...   (Hans Pennink)
Protesters for and against the same-sex marriage bill protest in the halls at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Monday, June 20, 2011, as Senate Republicans, who can determine the measure's fate, consider...   (Hans Pennink)
Protesters for and against the same-sex marriage bill protest at the Capitol in Albany, NY, Monday, June 20, 2011, as Senate Republicans consider whether to schedule a decisive vote on the issue.   (Hans Pennink)
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We certainly have no hatred for anyone who follows this lifestyle. The difference is we will be forced in our churches, in our businesses, all of our life practices, to acknowledge something which we strongly, morally disagree. - Pastor William Mayhew of Faith Bible Chapel

All of our faith traditions teach that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity, and equal protection under the law. The governor's bill specifically provides broad protection for religious freedom. - Rev. Tom Goodhue

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