ALBANY - (AP) - After a day of more closed-doornegotiations, New York's Senate left unsettled a bill to legalizegay marriage, setting up a pivotal showdown Wednesday as lawmakerslook to end the legislative session and national groups look for asign of things to come on the divisive issue.
The vote in the New York legislature is seen as a criticalmoment in the national debate over same-sex marriage.
The Assembly has already passed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo'sbill, and the issue appears to be one vote shy from approval in theSenate, if the Republican caucus which mostly opposes gay marriageallows the measure to the floor for a vote.
The effort to legalize same-sex marriage largely stalled twoyears ago when the state Senate voted it down. Since then, themovement has failed in Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.Advocates hope a "yes" vote in New York will jumpstart theeffort.
Susan Lerner, a good government advocate from the group CommonCause, said this year's debate has attracted more attention thanany social issue since the abortion fights of the 1970s.
In 2008, gay marriage advocates gave a major financial hand toDemocrats who won the state Senate, the first time Republicans wereout of control in 50 years. Democrats promised to legalize gaymarriage but failed in 2009, then lost the majority in 2010.
On Tuesday, Albany's backroom dealing cleared the way for thepossible Wednesday vote.
After an expected marathon session Tuesday to pass a mega dealinvolving tax, tuition and other issues, the Republican-led Senatenow will be able to focus on whether to release a gay marriage billto the floor for a vote.
Two Republicans clearly undecided are Sen. Stephen Saland of theHudson Valley, one of the Senate's most veteran and respectedmembers; and Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, a freshman who is partof the GOP youth movement voted into office in the 2010 Republicantide nationwide.
Negotiations continue over additional religious protections thatsome undecided Republicans have sought, and progress appears tohave been made in closed-door talks.
"We're open to doing amendments that guarantee religiousfreedom in this state," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, aManhattan Democrat, indicating a key movement on his part.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republicanopposed to gay marriage, said language regarding religiousprotection has not been finalized.
"That is still being reviewed," he said. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republicanopposed to gay marriage, said language regarding religiousprotection has not been finalized.
"That is still being reviewed," he said.
Cuomo, legislators hope to tackle big agenda