Yesterday, the New York Senate delayed voting on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Republican lawmakers are scheduled to meet to discuss whether a vote should be taken on the issue. The bill, called the Marriage Equality Act, would grant same-sex couples the right to marry, as well as other rights, benefits and protections, such as the right to visit a partner in the hospital and the right to make decisions about the partner’s medical care, that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex.

The bill passed the state Assembly by an 80-63 vote earlier in June, and Governor Cuomo (D) supports the measure. Several amendments have been proposed in the Senate to protect religious organizations from discrimination charges. Proponents say such amendments are unnecessary. The act appears to need one more Senate vote for passage. Currently 29 Democrats and two Republicans support the act; Republicans control the state Senate 32-30.

If the bill is passed into law, New York would become the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, following Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia. New York does not currently grant same-sex marriages, though a 2008 appellate court upheld the right of same-sex marriages to be recognized if they are performed in other states.

Media Resources: Washington Post 6/24/11; Reuters 6/23/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/16/11