Fence-sitting senators could decide fate of New York state’s same-sex marriage vote

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A group of undecided senators could determine whether same-sex marriage will become legal in New York state, according to a survey by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

In a survey of 62 senators, a group of eight indicated that they have not yet reached a decision on whether they would support same-sex marriage legislation if the bill comes to a vote.

The eight who have not yet publicly declared their stance include five Republicans and three Democrats.

One, Greg Ball, opposed same-sex marriage as an assemblyman, but now says he’s reconsidering his position as a first-year senator. Ball added that he wants any legislation to include protections for religious organisations who refuse to recognise same-sex marriage.

“I really want to see real religious carve-outs that protect the church and other religious institutions, as well as a clear division defined in the bill between civil marriage and religious marriage,” he said.

The current bill, which has been introduced in the Assembly but not the Senate, would not require the clergy to solemnise a same-sex marriage. But Ball said the language should be stronger.

Gay rights campaigners and conservative groups are now heavily lobbying the undecided lawmakers, as well as other potential fence sitters, before the legislative session ends on 20 June.

A college survey undertaken last moth found a record 58 per cent of New Yorkers support the bill.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.