Open thread: New York senate to legalize gay marriage tonight? Update: The 32nd vote? Update: Bill passes, 33-29

A big deal if it happens, and it might.

Though New York is a relative latecomer in allowing gay marriage, it is considered an important prize for advocates, given the state’s size and New York City’s international stature and its role as the birthplace of the gay-rights movement, which is said to have started with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in 1969.

The effects of the law could be felt well beyond New York: Unlike Massachusetts, which pioneered gay marriage in 2004, New York has no residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license, meaning the state could become a magnet for gay couples across the country who want to have a wedding in Central Park, the Hamptons, the romantic Hudson Valley or that honeymoon hot spot of yore, Niagara Falls.

Gay-rights advocates are hoping the vote will galvanize the movement around the country and help it regain momentum after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009 and similar measures failed in 2010 in New Jersey and this year in Maryland and Rhode Island.

The senate has been deadlocked 31-31 all week, but just within the past few hours the Conservative Party is claiming that the 32nd vote in favor has been secured and that the bill will pass. How’d that happen? Well, they finally reached a compromise on the “religious exception” rule:

The Cuomo administration and legislative leaders have reached agreement on language to protect religious institutions from obligations to recognize same-sex marriage, two people involved in the negotiations said on Friday afternoon, potentially paving the way for a vote on the marriage legislation.

Senate Republicans were still discussing the marriage bill in a closed-door meeting on Friday afternoon; it remained unclear when — or if — they would permit a vote on the broader legislation. The State Assembly, which approved an earlier version of the same-sex marriage bill last week, would need to approve the new language before the full bill could become law.

Emerging from a meeting with Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the Assembly version of the bill, said that there was an “agreement in principle” on the new language. He predicted that the Assembly would vote to adopt the new language on Friday.

This is the biggest story in America tonight given its implications for other states that are on the fence, so I’m embedding the live feed below of proceedings in the senate. Unfortunately, gay marriage isn’t the only agenda item so you may have to wait awhile before they get to it. Reportedly, it’ll be the last issue they address, which means it could be hours before things heat up. While we wait, a point to ponder: If Obama’s reelected, how long into his second term will it be before he finally “evolves” to endorse gay marriage? Over/under is four months.

Watch live streaming video from nysenate at

Update: According to Gannett newspapers, the 32nd vote is Poughkeepsie Republican Steve Saland. The vote’s coming soon, as of 9:40 p.m. ET. We’ll see.

Update: Big win for gay marriage supporters. Not only did it pass, it passed with an extra vote — 33/29. Four Republicans voted yes.

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