Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New York State Assembly slated to pass marriage bill

As the debate over marriage for same-sex couples shifts to the New York, the state Assembly is slated to pass a bill as early as today that would allow nuptials for gays and lesbians.

This expected passage will come as little surprise to those who have followed this issue in New York. The Assembly passed a marriage bill former Gov. Eliot Spitzer introduced in 2007. And the proposed legislation Gov. David Paterson introduced last month is widely expected to pass the Democrat-controlled chamber.

The state Senate remains the wild card. Majority Leader Malcolm Smith [D-St. Albans, Queens] has repeatedly indicated he remains unsure as to whether he has enough votes among his own members to ensure the bill's passage. State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., [D-Bronx] is among those within Smith's party who continue to vehemently oppose marriage for same-sex couples. And no Republicans in the state Senate have publicly endorsed the bill in spite of Minority Leader Dean Skelos [R-Rockville Centre]'s assertion his members can vote their conscience.

The reality under which Albany lawmakers continue to debate this contentious issue has certainly changed since 2007. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have all moved to extend marriage to same-sex couples, while New Jersey is poised to potentially follow suit by the end of the year. A common analogy among activists is almost every other state (and Canada) that borders the state offer some sort of relationship recognition to same-sex couples, but New York remains the embarrassing doughnut hole in the middle.

Stay tuned...

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