Republican State Senators Insist on Unspecified Changes to Marriage-Equality Bill Before Allowing Vote

ALBANY, NY - JUNE 16: New York Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos (R-District 9) (C) talks with colleagues in the Senate chamber on June 16, 2011 in Albany, New York. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would legalize gay marriage as soon as tomorrow. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images) Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/2011 Getty Images

Wondering why there hasn't been a vote on marriage equality in the State Senate yet? Well, the Republican caucus, which controls whether bills can be brought to the floor, has been holding it up. On Wednesday, they gave no reason for the delay, but late yesterday some members came up with an excuse: The bill doesn't protect organized religions enough. The bill already bars such groups from having to perform same-sex nuptials if they don't want to, or having to "provide accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage." It even bans civil suits against them on the matter, but the GOP says that is not sufficient.

From the Times this morning:

Senator Andrew J. Lanza of Staten Island, who, along with Senators Kemp Hannon of Long Island and Stephen M. Saland of Poughkeepsie, met with the governor, said, “The concern that I have expressed, and others have expressed, is that we don’t want to create a vehicle that will allow anyone to make a challenge, to erode, what I think is a fundamental American freedom, and that is the freedom of expression when it comes to religion" ... Senator William J. Larkin Jr., a Hudson Valley Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, said he understood his colleagues’ concerns: “Some of the people, in fairness, that were asking questions yesterday said, ‘Why don’t we take time and make sure it’s right?’ Without naming names, I can tell you I believe some of them will vote for it, but they want to make sure while they’re voting for it they’re not punishing the synagogue, the Catholic church, the Baptist church.”

When asked by the paper what specific changes they were requesting, the Republicans didn't supply any. It's unclear whether Cuomo would offer to accept changes, since the legislative session ends on Monday and the Assembly has already passed the current bill.

Republicans Urge Cuomo to Alter Same-Sex Marriage Bill [NYT]