It's been difficult to follow the developments this week in the fight for same-sex marriage in New York. Someone on Twitter says "EXCLUSIVE: VOTE HAPPENING TONIGHT," and then five minutes later, "UPDATE: NO VOTE EVER." So let's try to make some sense of what's happening.
Proponents of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York have been stuck for days at 31 votes — one short of the 32 needed for a majority in the state senate. But the first hurdle is making sure Republicans agree to allow a vote on the bill. They've been huddling this afternoon in conference to discuss it, after Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos met privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this morning. The debate still seems to hinge around the exact language for amendments giving greater protections for religious organizations who are freaked out about getting hit with discrimination lawsuits. But that could be a stalling tactic to avoid a tough vote before the (already extended) session ends.
A) They could decide not to bring the bill up for a vote (similar to what Assembly Democrats did on congestion pricing). The governor could call them back into session, but could not compel them to vote on it.
B) The bill could be held indefinitely in the Rules Committee. There is a technical maneuver, called a Motion to Discharge that would force a bill out of committee and onto the floor of the State Senate, for a vote. Problem: That maneuver requires 38 signatures, an impossibly high bar to meet on such a controversial bill.
C) The bill could be recommended out of the Rules Committee and onto the State Senate floor for a vote. After the vote, but before the gavel drops, the sponsor could pull the bill, and no vote would be recorded. It's happened once, I'm told, a few years ago, with a bill sponsored by Republican George Maziarz.
D) It gets voted on.
(C) would definitely be the most exciting, but also quite sucky. Exciting? Sucky? What do you people want out of your politics? Why can't gay couples just get state marriage certificates and file their taxes jointly? There is no end to the complications surrounding this issue.
We'll see if Republicans reach any conclusive way to proceed by the end of the day. Meanwhile, President Obama is coming to New York for a fundraiser, and there's "pressure" for him to give an endorsement of gay marriage or some other nudge of support to the bill during his visit. The prospect of that sounds pleasant, in a Disney movie sort of way, but I'm not sure how President Obama linking himself to the bill at this point would entice state Republicans to bring it to a successful vote. One step at a time.
[Image via AP]