New York State Assembly Approves Gay Marriage Bill

06.16.11 | Sarah Harnisch

New York's Assembly approved a same-sex marriage bill last night. That means it's sitting in the Senate this morning. The bill was was approved 80-63 in the Assembly Wednesday, but faces a tougher vote in the Senate, where Republicans are in the majority. It's the fourth time since 2007 that the Assembly has passed marriage equality legislation. It has never passed the Senate. After four hours of debate yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos came out of the chamber and said, "The issue has not been resolved."

The debate in the Assembly on Wednesday was much more delibate in favor of the bill. At one point, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell said, quote, "If you want to believe in a book and a God that tells you what to think, knock yourself out. But do not throw that book in my face."

In the Senate, the dialogue was more focused on the religious freedoms the bill would take away. Senator Andrew Lanza said, "I've always been concerned about the conscience exception, the non-for-profit exception, the religious exception. I think one of the hallmark principles of our country is the respect for faiths, for religion in this country and I think that needs to be preserved. I think there are issues outstanding in this legislation with respect to that issue. If nothing else, we are a country that protects religious freedom and that must be embodied in any legislation that ever comes to the floor of this Senate." 

What exactly is in the bill? It would give same-sex couples an equal right to marry as well as 1,300 other rights, benefits and protections that are limited to married couples of the opposite sex only. The Senate is just one vote away from passing it. They will spend the day Thursday debating the issue.