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Religious Protections At Center Of N.Y. Senate Gay Marriage Debate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- There was marriage drama in Albany on Monday.

A high-powered meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers, ended with same-sex marriage in New York still stuck at the altar, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

Demonstrators by the hundreds -- both those in favor of same-sex marriage and those opposed -- jammed the halls of the capital Monday as lawmakers continued to haggle over language that will protect religious institutions and garner enough support in the Republican-controlled Senate for the bill to pass.

State troopers were called to the Senate chamber floor as the two groups started to merge and talk with each other, but there was no escalation in the jammed marble hallways that turned stifling hot from the people and TV cameras. Most were respectful of each other and kept to their own groups.

1010 WINS' Al Jones With More On The Dueling Protests In Albany.


Groups led by clergy opposed to same-sex marriage sang hymns such as "Victory is Mine'' and prayed in small circles while pro-same-sex marriage advocates countered with "God Bless America'' and lined the halls and parlor outside the Senate chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon, just moments after a powwow with Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

"We have staff people and members discussing with the governor religious protections. They're still working on it. Once they're prepared we'll let you know what they are," Skelos told Kramer.

"We're working to protect the religious protections to make sure that they're solid and that they will stand. You could have a judge come in and knock out all the religious protections."

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond has the latest on the debate.


Still, the demonstrations continued to force the Senate's hand. The Assembly has already passed the measure and is standing by to pass of the religious protections sought by the Senate as a way of making New York the sixth and largest state to make same-sex marriages legal.

A few senators -- including Greg Ball of Putnam County -- have said they're still deciding how they would vote. Some of Ball's constituents have taken to his Facebook page to pressure him to vote "yes." Others are asking him not to rush his decision.

The outcome is of huge importance to John Mace and Richard Dorr, an elderly New York couple that wants to marry after being together for 61 years.

"Why not? Why not why complete this relationship?" Mace said. "I come from an Italian family. They're the marrying kind."

"The only sanctifying element in a marriage is what the two people bring to it," Dorr added.

Former New York Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree was in Albany to oppose gay marriage.

"I want to tell the New York senators it's not about right and left, it's about right and wrong. Marriage is an honorable estate not created by government but founded in nature and in God's nature," Tyree said.

Sources told Kramer a Senate vote is expected some time this week. Maybe Tuesday; maybe Wednesday; maybe even as late as Thursday.

Reaction on the streets of New York City has been mixed.

"I'm a Christian and I don't really believe in that. I mean I don't have a problem with gay people, I do have a lot of gay friends, I wouldn't support the marriage part," Millecher Semple, of Jaimaca, Queens, told CBS 2.

"I think they should have the same rights as every other tax paying American," added Colin Mitchell of the Upper West Side.

Legalizing same-sex marriage has been stalled since last week, when it passed the State Assembly in 80-63 vote. Hundreds of gay rights activists rallied throughout Manhattan Sunday to push for progress on the bill.

"Injustice everywhere is injustice anywhere we need to deconstruct these laws that are unjust and create one that gives everyone the right to marry," said Jackie Lewis, a gay rights activist.

"God made people gay, so them being allowed to marry is not only a moral right, but it's a civil right," Lewis added.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan addressed the same-sex marriage issue at Father's Day mass Sunday.

"I know we're sort of the David here, up against a Goliath, but we're not going to give up. That's what this request for prayers was all about," Dolan said.

Dolan again stated the belief of the Catholic Church that marriage is defined by a union between a man and a woman.

"Any presumption to redefine that sacred vocabulary, I'm afraid, is at our common peril," Dolan said.

Do you support the Marriage Equality Act? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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