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Demonstrators fill Albany statehouse as gay marriage battle continues

From Dana Garrett, CNN
Crowds in Albany, New York, chant both for and against a bill that would hlep legalize same-sex marriage in New York.
Crowds in Albany, New York, chant both for and against a bill that would hlep legalize same-sex marriage in New York.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bill would help legalize same-sex marriage in New York state
  • Crowds chanted both for and against the measure
  • Monday was technically the last official day of the legislative session
  • 5 states and D.C. currently grant same-sex marriages

New York (CNN) -- Demonstrators gathered in Albany, New York, Wednesday as state lawmakers pored over the details of a bill that could help make New York the nation's sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Crowds chanted both for and against the measure, wielding placards as the state's senators inched toward bringing the controversial measure to a vote.

But unlike many political stand-offs, the two groups often seemed to intermingle, singing religious songs together inside the state capital.

Others chanted political slogans, petitioning for either "marriage equality" or defending the institution's traditional definition, yelling "one man, one woman."

Technically, Monday was the last official day of the legislative session, but a vote is still pending.

Two other major measures are awaiting a decision: Whether to enact the first statewide cap on property taxes, which is linked to the extension of rent control laws that apply to roughly 1 million apartments, most of them in New York City.

A vote on the marriage measure, which the state Assembly passed June 15, has been stalled in part by Republican concerns over protections for religious institutions against the potential for litigation.

Democrats have countered that most such institutions must already abide by New York's existing anti-discrimination laws, while most church groups enjoy religious exemptions.

At last public count, 31 senators, including two Republicans, were in favor of the bill. Its backers need one more GOP member to vote in favor for it to pass.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed the bill, says it would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry "as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex."

Currently, five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- and the District of Columbia grant same-sex marriage licenses.

 
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