Cuomo aide: Same-sex marriage vote imminent

This just in from the state political blogs: The New York state legislature is expected to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage sometime in the next few days.

From the New York Times:

On a day of fast moving developments, the Cuomo aide, Steve Cohen, told reporters that “my expectation is this will go to a vote” this week, and that the measure has enough support to become law.

But no Republicans have publicly come forward to back the measure and Mr. Cohen did not identify any who had privately committed to voting for it.

The Daily News quotes Cohen as saying it would only take a few Republicans to pass the bill:

Cohen said it would only take three or four Republicans to make gay marriage a reality."This is an important piece of our agenda," he said. "It should pass. This is something that should be taken up. This is something that has widespread Democratic support. It should have widespread Republican support. But that’s not even what we need. What we simply need are 10% of the Republicans.”  

The Albany Times-Union has it, too:

All eyes are on the Senate. The bill has passed the Assembly three times, and is expected to pass again, albeit by a tighter margin, if needed.

It seems unlikely that state senator John Bonacic, whose 42nd District covers most of the Catskills region, will change his mind on the matter. (Bonacic, like the rest of his Republican colleagues, voted against a bill to pass same-sex marriage back in 2009.) Just last month, he told Albany radio correspondent Susan Arbetter of The Capitol Pressroom that same-sex marriage would be an "economic hit" to the state's finances:

Bonacic, speaking on the Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter, said allowing same-sex couples to wed in New York would mean partners would be receiving Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability benefits for spouses and would receive inheritance benefits that would strip the state of revenue.

“I’m a traditionalist too and probably in time as the younger generation gets a little older, you probably will see gay marriage being approved,” said Bonacic, who said he’s a “no” on same-sex marriage. “But it will be an economic hit on the state.”

(A note on that: A lot of the benefits Bonacic is talking about are federal, and thus unaffected by whatever New York State decides to do, unless the federal government begins recognizing same-sex marriages.)

So who's still on the fence? According to a recent survey by Gannett, eight state senators are still undecided: Republicans James Alesi, Stephen Saland, Greg Ball, Kemp Hannon, and Roy McDonald, and Democrats Joseph Addabbo, Shirley Huntley, and Carl Kruger. The New York Times recently profiled a few of the "Undecided Eight":

Conflicted and uneasy, they are members of a closely watched, endlessly lobbied and emotionally frazzled club in the State Senate these days: the Undecided Eight, whose votes will determine whether New York this year becomes the largest state in the nation to allow gay couples to wed.

The New York Times story linked above also described Republican Andrew Lanza as undecided on the matter; last month, a WNYC article noted that Lanza could be "swayable":

Lanza also appears swayable because of the local (and Republican) backlash following his eventual "no" vote. Another thing that makes him interesting to gay marriage supporters is the vote he cast last year in favor of allowing any two unmarried partners to adopt children. The bill passed both houses of the legislature and was sponsored by Senator Thomas Duane, the only openly gay member of the Senate and one of the Democrats who's leading the charge for marriage equality legislation.

Full disclosure: I married my Watershed Post co-editor, Julia Reischel, in Massachusetts, which counts us among a number of same-sex couples already legally married in New York State (and thus subject to the same state law as opposite-sex married couples, for the most part). --LH.