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No Guarantee for N.Y. Marriage Vote


As New York state legislators prepared to return to Albany for a special session called by Gov. David Paterson, it remained uncertain whether the marriage equality bill placed on the agenda for Tuesday would come to a vote.

On Sunday, the outlines of a familiar debate from last spring appeared to emerge, as Democratic conference leader John Sampson of Brooklyn sounded unwilling to hold a vote on the bill if its outcome would be uncertain, according to Liz Benjamin at the New York Daily News.

"This is a very important issue, and I can understand the position of the advocates for an up and down vote, but I think that issue is very important to me and very important to the members of my conference," said Senator Sampson to Benjamin. "If that issue is put on the floor it should be put on the floor knowing that we have the necessary votes to pass it."

The bill, which passed the assembly for the second time this spring, needs 32 votes to pass in the senate, where Democrats hold a narrow 32-30 majority. Current estimates put support for the bill at around 25 votes, according to The New York Times. Enough Democrats oppose the bill for it to require some Republican votes, and no Republican is on record as ready to vote yes, despite an announcement from Republican senate minority leader Dean Skelos of Long Island that his members may vote their conscience on the issue.

In fact, Sampson told Benjamin that he believes Republicans would be less likely to vote for the bill now, citing the change in "dynamics" since conservatives ousted moderate assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava from an upstate New York senate race, in part because of her support for same-sex marriage.

"The dynamics have truly changed," said Sampson. "You have to worry about being elected in your own district. I know the Republicans are nervous about the conservatives... This is all about responsibility. I know the advocates want one thing, but we have to be responsible," he said.

New Yorkers in support of marriage equality plan to hold a pre-session vigil Monday night at 6 p.m. in Union Square.

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Julie Bolcer