New York appears to be inching closer to becoming the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The New York Times reports that three wavering Democratic state senators have agreed to support the proposal, leaving gay marriage advocates only three votes shy of the total they would need for passage.
Those three lawmakers had previously voted against the measure, and their reversal gives Senate Democrats a near-unanimous voting bloc heading into a possible vote later this week. (The party’s lone holdout, Rubén Díaz Sr., is one of the most vocal opponents of the bill.)
Advocates, however, still appear to have their work cut out for them. They will need to find the three remaining votes they need within the chamber’s Republican majority, which voted unanimously against the effort two years ago.
But many believe that things would be different this time around. The Times notes that at least five Republican senators have indicated that they are now undecided on the bill, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he is confident that at least three of them will break with their party if given the chance.
Republicans will meet Tuesday to decide whether to hold a vote and, if they opt to bring the measure to the floor, Majority Leader Dean Skelos has indicated that he won’t stand in the way of anyone voting their conscience. “If they favor it, I’ve always said, they can vote for it,” Skelos told reporters on the way into a meeting with Cuomo.
The Democratic-controlled State Assembly has already passed the measure, and Cuomo and like-minded advocates have launched a full-court press to move the bill through the state Senate before next Monday’s scheduled end to the current legislative session.
If New York does legalize same-sex marriage it would become the sixth state to do so. It is already legal in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa. Gay marriage was also briefly legal in California until voters passed Proposition 8, which currently faces legal challenges, in 2008.
“New York sets trends and this is a trend, if it happens, that we hope would sweep the country,” Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, told Politico.