NY Senate Will Vote on Gay Marriage
'Up or down' vote could come as soon as tonight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2011 5:24 PM CDT
Gay marriage supporters in a hallway at the Capitol in Albany, New York, as legislators review a bill that could have huge effects on the national gay rights movement.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

(Newser) – Republicans in the New York Senate agreed today to allow a full vote on legalizing gay marriage; it could come as soon as tonight. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the bill will come to the floor and be brought up for an "up or down vote," calling it a "vote of conscience for every member of this Senate." Gay marriage activists were jubilant and applauded Skelos, who is opposed to gay marriage, for keeping his promise to let the conference decide whether to send the bill to the floor.

The sticking point over the past few days: Republican demands for stronger legal protections for religious groups that fear they will be hit with discrimination lawsuits if they refuse to allow their facilities to be used for gay weddings. Now, all 32 Republicans have approved stronger religious protections. Several senators said they didn't know from discussion inside a closed conference this afternoon whether the bill would pass. Senators had agreed not to comment on discussions in the caucus and to allow Skelos to speak for them. Thirty-one of the 62 senators have publicly endorsed the bill; it needs one more vote to pass.
 

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