Agreement Reportedly Reached on Religious Exemptions in NY Marriage Equality Bill But Vote Still Uncertain

The latest from Nick Confessore at City Room:

Ny The Cuomo administration and legislative leaders have reached agreement on language that would 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 among themselves in a close door meeting on Thursday afternoon. And it remained unclear whether — and even if — they would permit a vote on the broader legislation. Assembly lawmakers, which approved an earlier version of the same-sex marriage bill last week, would need to approve the new language in a new vote before the full bill could become law.

The NYDN has a similar report.

Insiders expect the Legislature will finally finish its work — including taking up a gay marriage bill — today.

Of course, we've been hearing that for several days…

UPDATE: Amendment language introduced in NY Assembly. Read it here.

Things seem to be changing by the minute in Albany. We'll keep you updated if and when they decide to debate and/or vote.


  1. Jollysocks says

    And now everything comes down to a bunch of GOPers sitting in a room in Albany. God help us. Get ready for this to go either way, and very soon.

  2. searunner says

    Nick Confessore and Capital Tonight are both reporting Gov. Cuomo has delivered the big omnibus bill (the ‘Big Ugly’) to the legislature.

    News regarding the fate of marriage equality could break at any moment.

  3. Glenn says

    Funny how Greg Ball put out a press release early this morning saying that, “Now that the final text is public,” he felt he had to vote against the bill. And they just now actually agreed to the text, and it’s still not public.

    Ball is a lying sack of sh!t

  4. freddy says

    Aaaaaaaaaand scene.

    My hopes are dashed. The GOP has little incentive to introduce it and go on record as mostly opposing when and if it passes. The burnishing of their conservative cred with a “nay” vote is far dwarfed by the results of their sitting on, and thereby killing, the bill in the first place, even moreso to the Nth degree if the bill actually passes.

  5. Jollysocks says

    @BOBN: The last version you read was the original Cuomo bill from last week, and you would vote no on that? That bill is basically identical to every other marriage equality bill that’s been passed in the other states.

  6. searunner says

    @Glenn: Ball was lying; he might have seen draft language at best.

    @Bobn: Have you seen the proposed amendment language and do you have a link to it?

  7. Bruno says

    It just comes down to this: were the GOP negotiating all this in good faith, or were they just trying to get the tax cap passed using everything in their means? It sounds like that will be answered by tonight.

  8. Mark says

    I understand that some have objections to so many religious exceptions being included, especially since churches and the like already have such freedoms and protections under the 1st Amendment, but now is not the time to insist that everything is 100% just the way you would like it. NY is the third most populated state in the nation. A victory there would be a huge win for our side.

  9. Yuki says

    Based on this article–and I’ve read nothing more than the Towleroad posting, mind you–it sounds like “religious exemptions” just means “churches won’t have to marry same-sex couples if they don’t want to”. That’s completely reasonable; separation of church and state, and all.

  10. Jollysocks says

    @Bruno: Exactly. If they blow off the vote, then they were not negotiating in good faith. If they leave that conference and say “no vote” tonight, then all the Senate Dems should say “ok no deal on the Big Ugly” and have Cuomo schedule more time session time next week. I DOUBT they would have the fortitude to do that though.

  11. searunner says

    @Bruno: Of course skipping town without addressing marriage equality could, however unlikely, sour Gov. Cuomo on further negotiations as well as they’d be banking on the Gov. signing the bill and not calling them back.

    For the record, I seriously doubt that Cuomo would refuse to sign the omnibus bill if the GOP failed to take up marriage equality. As for souring Cuomo, that depends on what was told to hom personally in negotiations.

  12. ohplease says

    There are valid reasons why believing that voting for a badly-amended bill would be disastrous for marriage equality, even — or especially — if it meant a crippled marriage semi-equality.

    Still, I say vote for it, anyway. Then later we can legislate or litigate away the hate.

    Organized religion is the enemy of love, the enemy of common sense, the enemy of logic, the enemy of sanity and the enemy of humanity.

  13. Xavi says

    @YUKI, unfortunately, no the NY GOP wanted much more extensive “religious protections” than simply permitting religious organizations from deciding who they want to perform marriages for.

    The GOP wants to include language that would allow private citizens to decide whether to employ, rent to, sell to, or do business with gay people simply because they have “religious objections” to homosexuality. They want “protections”, ie discrimination, incorporated in the bill. They want protections that are already prohibited under existing NY state laws.

  14. says

    The religious exemptions they are asking for are actually attempts to allow discrimination based upon sexual preference. And the exemptions can extend to any individual, whether or not they are religious or not. This would be state-sponsored bigotry, and I feel that while this bill would allow gays and lesbians to marry, it still leaves them second-class citizens. Hopefully, Schneiderman will challenge the exemptions in the courts.

  15. searunner says

    @OHPLEASE: The new language prevents litigating anything we find undesireable. There’s a nonseverability clause in the bill. If one part is struck down, the whole bill is struck down.

    And if there is a problem with the bill, we are better served to address it after 2012 and assuming Democrats are in control of the Senate. And that is probably true without the nonseverability clause.

  16. Micklest says

    Does this mean that LGBT businesses could exempt themselves from straight marriages based on their religious beliefs? Imagine all the caterers, florists, etc. getting on that bandwagon. Not that it would happen, since it would be next to impossible to survive only doing same-sex weddings. There have been attempts at such “strikes” before and little if anything came of them.

  17. Zlick says

    That’s ok. If lawsuits against the blatant unconstitutionality of state-sanctioned bigotry provisions are successful and the marriage equality bill is struck down once 20 thousand couples have already married, that will confer the same advantage it gave us in California when we turned to the federal courts – i.e., it’s a ridiculous and untenable situation that federal courts will seek to remedy.

    All roads lead to the U.S. Supreme Court, even from New York, it seems. That’s a scary road to be sure, but until we get full federal marriage equality, the name “marriage” is pretty much just a pretty word.

    It’s going to take years of court battles to settle this … hopefully, though I may not live to see it, enough years so that some of the neanderthals on the U.S. Supreme Court will have shed their mortal coils before the case gets there!

    It’s a long road ahead, but I hope we take one giant step forward on it today!

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