By Jacob Gershman
If just one more Republican in New York’s Senate agrees to vote for same-sex marriage legislation, the state could be granting marriage licenses to gay couples by the middle of July.
Another Republican in the state Senate endorsed gay marriage Monday, the second in as many days to back the legislation. That brings the total votes in support to 31, just one short of the minimum needed to pass the bill in the Senate.
Confident that the bill will garner more than enough votes to pass, Gov. Andrew Cuomo advanced the measure Monday; the governor had said he would wait to introduce a gay marriage bill until he was sure it had enough votes to pass.
To assuage concerns aired by some Republican swing votes, Cuomo added new language that gives more legal protection to religious charities and benevolent societies that refuse to offer housing and other accommodations to same-sex couples.
Catholic groups and other opponents of gay marriage on Monday said they were facing an uphill battle but vowed to fight against the measure and to punish Republican lawmakers who vote for the bill. As the Journal reported earlier, catholic officials have asked Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan to make personal calls to Republican lawmakers.
Senate Republicans are expected to meet tomorrow to decide when to take up the bill. It could come to the floor for a vote as early as Thursday or Friday.
State Sen. Roy McDonald, a Republican from the Albany region, told reporters he would support the bill on Monday. He joins three Democrats and another Republican who voted against a gay marriage bill two years ago but now promise to switch their votes.
The bill is expected to clear the Democrat-led Assembly, which has already voted for gay marriage multiple times. Once the measure passes both houses, gay marriage would become legal in New York 30 days after Cuomo signs the bill into law.
Five other states, plus the District of Columbia, allow same-sex couple to marry.