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New York State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos announced Friday that the marriage equality bill would go the floor for a vote, which is expected later tonight.

The announcement came after an hours-long conference among Senate Republicans. Skelos, who personally opposes the bill, did not address reporters in Albany afterward but he issued a statement that said, "After many hours of deliberation and discussion over the past several weeks among the members, it has been decided that same-sex marriage legislation will be brought to the full Senate for an up or down vote."

Currently, 29 Democrats and two Republicans publicly support the marriage equality bill in the Senate. The bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled Assembly last week, needs one more vote to pass the Senate, and that vote must come from a Republican.

The statement from Skelos did not indicate whether another Republican supports the bill, although at least three remain publicly identified as undecided. He announced the vote shortly after legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached agreement on an amendment for religious exemptions in the bill.

"As I have said many times, this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate," said the statement from Skelos.

Cuomo and the coalition of marriage equality advocates have repeatedly said that they did not want to bring a bill to the floor if it would fail. The marriage equality bill died in the Senate by a vote of 24 to 38 in 2009.

The timing of the vote tonight remains unclear, with a few items of business in front of the marriage equality bill. Watch the New York State Senate live in session here.

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Julie Bolcer