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Demonstrators on both sides of the same sex marriage issue crowded the halls of the Capitol, each trying to drown the other out with their chanting and singing.
Opponents shouted “god says no," while supporters responded with “separate the church and state."
In a quiet corner, the Reverend Joe Rule, of the Calvary Baptist church in Albany, prayed with some of his followers. One of them is Ellen Kolb, from the suburb of Latham, who asked that opponents be spared the “scourge” of gay marriage. Kolb said she thinks her groups are having an influence on State Senators, who remain gridlocked at 31- 31.
“I am praying that the gay marraige bill will fail,” Kolb said.
Proponents of same sex marriage have run a campaign for weeks now featuring celebrities speaking in favor of gay marriage, including Joan Rivers and former New York giants star Michael Strahan. Groups in favor of traditional marriage brought out their own big name sports figure, New York Giants Superbowl star David Tyree who famously caught a winning pass.
“I always knew that god had a hand in enabling me to make that catch,” said Tyree. “Perhaps god orchestrated that play to give me a platform for what I’m doing here today.”
Supporters of same sex marriage were also out in full force.
Rabbis Lisa Grushcow and Andrea Myers are a committed couple who came from New York City to join those lobbying for same sex marriage.
“We do so many weddings for other people, but we can’t get married in New York ourselves,” Grushcow said. “We want it for ourselves, and our kids, and our family.”
As the protests continued, the State Senate did not announce a date to vote on Governor Cuomo’s same sex marriage bill. Senate Leader Dean Skelos said he and the governor continue to discuss adding amendments that would address concerns of some religious groups to protect them from participating in same sex marriage.
“You could have a federal judge come in and knock out all the religious protections, and still have gay marriage,” said Senator Skelos, who wants to craft the bill to make sure that does not happen.
Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders are also discussing two other key issues: the extension and strengthening of New York City’s rent laws and Cuomo’s proposal for a property tax cap.
About a month ago, Cuomo and the leaders announced a tentative deal on a property tax cap. It would be tied to the settling of the renewal of the rent laws, and both policies would periodically sunset on the same date and year.
Senator Skelos appeared to take a step back from that agreement, saying it should be “permanent.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is seeking more tenant protections in the rent laws, had little to say following the leader’s meeting. “There is no deal,” Silver said.
June 20th was to have been the official end of the legislative session, but lawmakers expect to remain at the Capitol at least through Wednesday. Speaker Silver says right now, he’s just taking things “one day at a time."