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Gay Marriage Bill Passes Assembly For Fourth Time

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After the State Assembly passed a gay marriage bill Wednesday night, State Senate Republicans will meet on Thursday to decide whether or not to bring the measure to the floor before the legislative session ends.

The State Assembly passed the measure by an 80-63 vote, making it the fourth time in two years it has passed such a bill.

“This is a matter of equity and justice,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement. “New Yorkers should have the right to marry whom they choose. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage, and their children, lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples.”

The governor's bill, which was formally introduced on Tuesday, provides several protections for religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said that the Republican conference failed to reach a decision Wednesday.

"Discussions are going to continue. The issue has not been resolved," said Skelos. "And I'll respect the decision of the conference once it's made, but the conference has asked me to keep the confidence of the conference at this point, which I intend to do. That's my responsibility as a leader. And we will continue to conference the issue tomorrow."

Same-sex marriage is now just one vote away from becoming law in New York, as a second senate Republican broke ranks on Tuesday to support the measure.

Senator Roy McDonald of Saratoga said he will vote "yes" on the bill, giving the measure by late Wednesday the support of 31 senators, with 32 needed for approval.

"Everybody’s different. Try to get along, try to do the right thing. It’s a difficult vote but I think it’s the right thing to do," McDonald told reporters.

In addition to McDonald, NY1 has learned Republican Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo is switching his public position from "no" to "undecided."

Staten Island Senator Andrew Lanza said he is also thinking about the legislation. While Lanza has been a constant "no" vote on issue, he says he is listening to his constituents.

In hopes of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, a number of prominent people took to the phones in a Midtown phone bank on Wednesday.

Volunteers, including openly gay pop star Lance Bass and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were calling people who lived in a district represented by one of the undecided state senators.

With a vote expected by the end of the week, the hope is to push one undecided senator off the fence and to support the marriage equality law.

"It takes efforts like this, you know, to really... when you're right there on the edge when it's like 50/50, this is what really makes a difference," said Bass.

"I sort of wonder how people are reacting when they pick up the phone and it says, 'Hi, this is Lance Bass.' I think that would be hilarious. I think it's great to have everybody out that we can possibly get, especially people who are high profile, because maybe that way maybe more people will listen," said a volunteer.

Organizers said the volunteers made thousands of calls and that each call could make a difference.

"On Monday, when senators stood up and said they changed their vote from 'no' to 'yes,' they were able to list exactly how many had called or emailed them and supported the bill," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

While supporters said they were closer than ever to same-sex marriage becoming legal, opponents still remain.

"I think it's immoral. God created man and woman to have matrimony and that's it," said one New Yorker.

"I was raised and believed in the Bible's positions. It just hit home for me that it's not natural," said another New Yorker.

The hot-button issue is even dividing former teammates. Former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree came out against same sex marriage on Wednesday, just days after former Big Blue defensive end Michael Strahan threw his support behind marriage equality.

Tyree, who is best known for his miracle catch during the Giants' winning drive in Super Bowl XLII, said his opinion is based on his strong religious views.

"This will be the beginning of our country's sliding towards, you know, it's a strong word, but 'anarchy,'" said Tyree. "The moment we have it, if you trace back even to other cultures, other countries, that will be the moment where our society and itself loses its grip with what's right."

If passed, New York will be the sixth state to legalize same sex marriage.

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