Saturday, September 5, 2009

Governor Paterson aims to push bill on gay marriage during special session

Governor Paterson aims to push bill on gay marriage during special session

BY Glenn Blain

ALBANY - Gay marriage will be on the state Senate's agenda as early as this month if Gov. Paterson gets his way.

In an interview with the Advocate, Paterson said he intends to put the bill legalizing same-sex marriage on the agenda when he calls the Legislature back into session to deal with the state's $2.1 billion budget deficit.

"I am anticipating a special session and I am anticipating this is one of the issues that we will address," Paterson told the gay and lesbian magazine.

A date for the special session has not been set but most lawmakers expect it to be held later this month or in early October.

Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein confirmed that the governor intends to place the bill on the session's agenda.

Under state law, Paterson sets the agenda for any special session he calls but he cannot force lawmakers to vote on legislation. They can simply table whatever measures they don't like.

The Assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in May, but its fate in the Democrat-controlled Senate remains uncertain.

A handful of conservative Democratic senators and most Republicans oppose it.

Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) is a supporter of the bill but does not want to bring it up for a vote until it has enough support to pass.

"Our position hasn't changed," Smith spokesman Austin Shafran said Friday. "We are supportive of the legislation but there is no indication that there are enough votes to pass it."

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