New York governor Andrew Cuomo met with marriage equality advocates on Wednesday and promised to use his considerable political assets to pass a bill this year.
The New York Times reports that Cuomo told advocates in the closed-door meeting in Albany that he was ready to devote his "full attention" to the issue this spring, likely after the conclusion of the difficult budget negotiations.
Cuomo said, "For me, this is personal," according to the Times.
In addition to lending his political popularity and muscle to the cause, Cuomo will assign a senior aide, Steven M. Cohen, to oversee the effort in the administration. Cohen serves as secretary to the governor, and his presence indicates a willingness on behalf of Cuomo to lead on the issue.
Gov. Cuomo issued a statement after the meeting that said, "Today's meeting was one in a series of many meetings to discuss a marriage equality bill. Same-sex couples deserve the right to join in civil marriage, and it is simply unfair to deny them the freedom to make this decision for themselves and their families. To me this is more than just a piece of legislation. This is about the lives of people who I have known for many years, who currently are without the rights to which they are entitled. I look forward to working with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that New York joins the growing number of states that allow the freedom to marry for all couples."
Also on Wednesday, a senate Republican who joined every member of his party in voting against the marriage equality bill in 2009 said his position was now "undeclared." According to the Albany Times Union, Sen. Jim Alesi said his stance has moved from "no" to "maybe."
Meanwhile, according to City Hall News, senators Joe Addabbo and Shirley Huntley, both Queens Democrats who voted against the bill two years ago, said they were now undecided.
Currently, 26 senators, all Democrats, support the marriage equality bill, which needs 32 votes to pass in the senate. Even with the possible support from the three undecided senators, at least three more votes are still needed.