With a vote possible by midweek, Governor Andrew Cuomo has summoned elected officials, gay rights advocates and labor groups to the State Capitol building on Monday afternoon for a strategy session on how to pass a marriage equality bill through the New York state senate., reports the New York Times. Cuomo wants the vote before the legislative session ends on June 20th.
The meeting will try to determine whether Republican leaders like Dean G. Skelos, who control the Senate, will allow the vote to come to the floor, and, if they do, whether there is enough support to pass a bill. The Democrat-held State Assembly has passed marriage equality bills in previous years.
Cuomo, who has been openly campaigning for the bill for months, needs six new votes in the senate to pass the historic measure, reports the Times.
Three previously undecided Democrats all of New York City--Shirley L. Huntley, Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and Carl Kruger--are expected to announce their support for the bill in the next 48 hours. (UPDATE: They did).
And The New York Post reports today that a surprising slew of Republicans, all of whom voted to defeat a same-sex marriage bill in 2009, are ready to vote "yes" this time around. These senators include are Kemp Hannon of Nassau County, Charles Fuscillo of Suffolk County, Betty Little of Glens Falls, Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, Greg Ball of Putnam County, James Alesi of Rochester, and Roy McDonald of Rensselaer County.
According to the Post, Republicans have been conducting secret polls showing majority support for gay marriage in key swing districts, causing the GOP to be concerned that voting down marriage equality this year would cause them to lose control of the Senate next year to Democrats.
And though those in Cuomo's office are optimistic they could pass the vote, they caution that the situation is fluid and could change.
Republicans are worried about passing gay marriage by a single vote, leaving one of their members to be viewed as the decisive figure, according to the Times.
And Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, who previously said he'd let the vote to come to the floor-- even though he would vote "no"-- now says he will have to discuss the issue with his caucus before allowing the vote.
The strongest force against gay marriage has been the state Conservative Party, who says it will deny political support to any Republican who backs gay marriage.
Cuomo has invested heavily in the issue, according to the Wall Street Journal. In speeches delivered around the state, he's drawn parallels between gay marriage and the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s while publicly demanding state senators to make marriage equality a reality. He also spearheaded a statewide campaign with gay rights groups, who are relying on Cuomo's popularity to bring their cause to victory.
If lawmakers pass the bill, New York would join five other states and the District of Columbia in allowing gays to marry.