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There is no reason why we should not have equality when it comes to marriage

Gay Marriage gains four supporters, goes forward to the legislature

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There were some major developments on a bill to allow gay marriage in New York, as four more Senators now say they will vote yes, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to send a bill to the legislature.

With more Democrats now backing the measure and Senate Republicans meeting to discuss the issue today, North Country Senator Betty Little still says she'll vote No.

Karen DeWitt has our story.

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Governor Cuomo appeared with three wavering democrats who said they will vote yes for gay marriage. "This is a very significant development. It comes at a very important time, right down to it at the last week," Cuomo said. "This is a big change and this is going to generate a lot of momentum."

Senator Joseph Addabbo from Queens said he is changing his vote to reflect the wishes of the majority of his district.

Senator Shirley Huntely said she also switched her vote after personally taking a poll of her constituents. "I used a telephone survey and I can tell you that the numbers had changed," she said. "It was 60-40. So based on those numbers, it's such a large number of constituents in favor of marriage equality. That is the reason I decided to vote for it."

Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn said he has kept an open mind and credited openly gay Senator Tom Duane for helping to convince him that a yes vote would be the right thing to do.

GOP Senator James Alesi, following a meeting with Cuomo and same-sex marriage advocates, said he will vote for the measure too, as long as his concerns about religious freedoms are addressed. "Given the opportunity to vote for a bill that does address the concerns of the churches and the religions that there is no reason why we should not have equality when it comes to marriage," he said.

Senator Alesi said he voted against the bill in 2009 for political reasons. The bill failed by a wide margin in the senate but Alesi said he's prepared to change his vote this time.

Alesi's position on the bill is key because votes in the senate are conducted alphabetically, and if he votes yes on the senate floor, then he may be able to bring other undecided senators with him. Senator Jospeh Robach, who represents the Rochester area, acknowledged that factor: "If my vote creates some leadership momentum for some of my colleagues, then I welcome them to come along. If in their hearts they can't support this, or if politically in their district they can't survive, then they make their own decisions based on that and I absolutely will not judge them on any vote that they take against it."

The fast moving developments led same-sex marriage advocates and Cuomo to send the bill to the senate and reccomend a full house vote.

Ross Levi, with Empire State Pride Agenda, said, "We continue to think the environment is strong. We think the momentum that has built up to this point continues to grow. The union leaders the labor leaders, the business leaders, the religious leaders, and the 60 percent of New Yorkers who are on our side, we think puts us in a very strong position for these remaining days of session."

Now just two more votes are needed in the Senate for approval and they'll have to come from additional senate Republicans. Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos said, while he is personally against same-sex marriage, he would permit a vote of conscience if the bill were to come to the floor: "If they favor it, I've always said, they can vote for it."

Senate Republicans will gather in a closed-door party conference to discuss the issue as early as Tuesday.

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