All Eyes On Albany: Lawmakers Return To Battle On Same-Gender Marriage, Rent Control


ny-state-senateAmped-up rhetoric aside and with seemingly little regard for the national microscope being trained on them, lawmakers in New York will go back to the office today with the issue of same-gender marriage still unresolved after more than a week of shrieking headlines and backdoor negotiations.

In the true essence of Albany, politicians in this nearly 400-year-old city will bargain and bicker over a host of seemingly unconnected issues as same-gender couples and other states watch closely for indications about which way the national debate is evolving over using the word “marriage” to describe the union between people of the same gender.

Lawmakers agreed to extend New York’s rent control law, law but only for another 24 hours. That topic will come up, as well as a cap on the amount of taxes municipalities can raise each year. All are set against the backdrop of what national advocates call a basic human right and what opponents call an assault on the religious sanctity of legal marriage between a man and a woman.

There was little progress Monday, even as hundreds of chanting protesters from each side of the highly charged debate in New York tried to make their case. The key sticking point appears to be how much freedom to grant religious groups who protest same-gender marriage and refuse to perform services or provide related functions like wedding receptions.

Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and the District of Columbia all allow same-gender marriage. Of them, all but Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., allow at least limited religious exemptions.

So, with only two days left in the scheduled legislative session, Republicans who are the last hurdle to same-gender marriage in the nation’s third-most populous state will likely adjourn this morning to their conference room on the right flank of the ornate Senate chamber while reporters and New Yorkers gather outside and wait for the door to open.

On Monday, after a three-hour meeting behind those closed doors, the 32 Republican senators emerged without comment. A vote within the private session to even move the bill to the floor for final legislative approval was pushed to at least today as private negotiations continued between Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has made same-gender marriage a major initiative.

“We were talking about the issues, but I would not say there was any great progress at this meeting. We’re continuing to work on it,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“I can’t really say we’re close on anything,” said Senate President Dean Skelos.

New York’s vote is pivotal in the national question over same-gender marriage, an effort that largely stalled in the same room two years ago when the Senate voted it down. Since then, efforts have failed in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maryland. Advocates hope a “yes” vote will jumpstart the effort.

Skelos worries a federal judge could strike down flimsy religious protections in the current proposal if a religious group is sued for discrimination for refusing to provide its hall for a same-gender wedding. He wants protections that will allow a religious group to observe its principles without conflicting with a same-gender marriage law.

“I think that’s critically important,” Skelos said.

Monday’s inaction was a disappointment for both sides of the same-gender marriage issue, some of whom had expected a decision a week ago.

State troopers were called to the Senate chamber floor as the two groups started to merge and talk with each other, but there was no escalation in the jammed hallways that turned stifling hot from the number of people and TV cameras. Most were respectful and kept to their own groups.

The Assembly has already passed the measure. Negotiations are expected to continue today.

{WCBS 880/ Newscenter}


  1. Keep up the pressure:

    Call Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and tell the one who answers that you do not want the bill to come to the floor for a vote. His number is 518-455-3171.
    In addition, call your local State Senator and tell him you that are against the bill. Tell him that if he votes for the bill there will be negative ramifications in the next election. You can find out who your senator is by going to:

  2. Re: “Who should we call? Phone # emails?”

    Call Mr. Dean Skelos leader of the
    conservative majority. Mr. Skelos can
    actually toss that horrible bill in the
    garbage can. As majority leader, he is in
    charge of determining whether to consider
    a bill worthy of discussion.

    Since the Senate has already rejected and voted against this bill several
    times in the past, Skelos would be prepared
    to “kill” the bill again. It pays to call
    him to voice your opposition.

    His telephone # is : 516-766-

    Thank Mr. Skelos for his opposition
    to this immoral bill in the past and encourage him to reject it again. Urge him to
    shelve the bill forever. Urge him not to
    cave to Governor Cuomo on this matter.

    Go to the New York Senate website
    and click on “Senators”. Contact the
    conservative senators and urge them to stick
    to their principles without compromise.
    Thank Senator Golden for his consistent
    support of traditional marriage and his
    consistent opposition to the evil “gay”
    marriage bill.