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Gay Marriage Bill One Vote Away in New York

Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said he hopes the same-sex marriage bill in New York will finally pass when it comes up for a vote by the Senate Friday.

“I’ve lobbied for it for many years as I have lobbied for other civil rights issues and I hope this time it works,” said Hanauer, who is openly gay and lives with his partner of 37 years, Alan Stahl.

State Lawmakers are just one vote away from passing a same-sex marriage bill in New York. Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga) announced Tuesday that he will support the bill, making him the 31st Senator to do so publicly. The measure needs 32 votes to pass the Senate.

The legislation could hinge on two key votes by Senators from Westchester and the Hudson Valley. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo formally introduced the bill in both the Assembly and Senate.

State Senator Greg Ball (R-C, Patterson), whose district includes Peekskill,  Yorktown, Somers, Mount Kisco and Bedford announced Wednesday that he does not support the bill as it's currently written.

The Senator said he "made it clear to Governor Cuomo" that he would be an "absolute no vote," unless there are proper religious exceptions, including the Catholic Church.

"We can push forward an issue without it being a compete affront on those who have strongly-held religious beliefs," said Ball.

State Assemblyman Steven Saland (R-Poughkeepsie), who is considered to be another swing vote, has stated that he is "undecided" about the measure.

Hanauer said the argument that churches and religious organizations don’t want the bill because it bridges freedom of religion is a false argument.

“Marriage is and always has been a civil ceremony contract between the government and parties and if churches don’t want to have same sex marriages in church they have every right not to,” he said. “They don’t even have to marry their own parishioners if they don’t approve of what they’re doing.”

Same-sex marriage legislation was defeated in the New York State Senate in 2009.  It has passed in the Assembly numerous times. If approved, New York would become the sixth state in the nation to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Gay marriages are currently recognized in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Iowa, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Oregon.

A vote on the measure is expected either Thursday or Friday. Governor Cuomo has said he supports same-sex marriages and is expected to sign the bill if it's passed.

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