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NEWS BRIEFS: 8 senators hold fate of N.Y. ‘gay marriage’ bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (BP)–The fate of a “gay marriage” bill in the New York legislature apparently will come down to the vote of eight undecided state senators, most of whom would need to support the proposal for it to pass, a tally by Gannett’s Albany, N.Y., bureau shows.

The bill needs 32 votes to pass and has the backing of 26 senators, all Democrats. Another 28 expressed opposition, leaving it in the hands of the undecided eight — five Republicans and three Democrats, according to Gannett. The GOP controls the state Senate, 32-30.

The Assembly already has passed the bill, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to sign it.

Polls show the state is divided. A NY1/YNN-Marist Poll of 941 adults April 25-29 showed that by a 53-46 percent New Yorkers believe marriage should “only be between a man and a woman.” At the same time, the same poll showed 50 percent supporting “gay marriage,” 25 percent backing civil unions and 25 percent saying there should be no legal recognition.

That same poll showed only 30 percent of self-identified Republicans support “gay marriage” — a stat that could put pressure on the undecided GOP senators. Also, the state Conservative Party, influential in New York, has pledged not to endorse any Republican who backs the bill. That is significant in New York’s unique election system, which allows a candidate’s name to appear on the ballot alongside multiple parties. Sometimes, the winning margin for a GOP candidate comes from the “Conservative” slot on the ballot.

New York is a major prize in the battle over marriage’s definition: Its population, 19 million, is more than the combined populations of the five states that have legalized “gay marriage.”

[Click here to read about its implications on the country.]

The five undecided Republicans are Sens. James Alesi, Stephen Saland, Greg Ball, Kemp Hannon and Roy McDonald. The undecided Democrats are Sens. Joseph Addabbo, Shirley Huntley and Carl Kruger.

PERRY SIGNS ULTRASOUND BILL; MORE PRO-LIFE BILLS ADVANCE — Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law May 19 legislation that requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound test before having an abortion, but at least one pro-life organization withheld support for the measure, LifeNews.com reported.

Texas Right to Life refused to endorse the legislation, contending it was not as strong as a proposal the House of Representatives had passed earlier in the session. Both bills require a sonogram, but the one signed into law has exceptions affecting a 24-hour waiting period and a verbal explanation of the ultrasound images that caused Texas Right to Life to refuse to support it.

Texas Alliance for Life supported the bill signed by Perry, a Republican.

In other state actions:

— The Tennessee House of Representatives approved in a 76-18 roll call May 20 a measure to be placed on the 2014 ballot that would amend the state constitution to allow legislators in the future to pass abortion restrictions in the state, according to LifeNews. The proposal — already OK’d by the state Senate — is a response to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s 2000 decision that the state constitution offers stronger protection for abortion rights than does the federal constitution. The proposed amendment reads: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

— The Louisiana House passed in a 93-0 vote May 12 a proposal to require signs to be posted at abortion clinics that tell women they may not be coerced into abortions and there are resources available if they choose to give birth.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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