Skelos: Senate to conference same-sex marriage bill tomorrow

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Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said his conference is focusing right now on the issue of same-sex marriage, and will decide tomorrow whether to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

His comments came a day after three Democrats and Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, all announced that they would vote in favor of the measure. All four voted against it when same-sex marriage last came to the Senate floor in 2009.

Speaking briefly after an event earlier today in the Legislative Office Building, Skelos said Senate Republicans will conference the bill, which hasn’t yet been officially released, tomorrow.

“We’re going to conference it tomorrow,” Skelos said. “My position all along is that it should come to the floor for a vote. It’s a vote of conscience, and that it will be a conference decision that will be made tomorrow.”

Skelos said it will be up to the individual senators to decide how to vote if it does come to the floor. The Assembly has passed the bill three times in recent years.

“That’s a very personal decision, a very private decision,” Skelos said. However they vote, yes or no, it’s going to be their decision.”

Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, who voted against same-sex marriage in 2009 and had been considered a “no” vote, said he’s been doing some “soul searching” on the issue. With 30 senators now committed to voting in favor of the bill, two votes still need to be had.

“What I’m not saying is ‘no, and that’s it,'” Lanza said. “What I am saying is I’m not convinced that we need to change what has been the definition of traditional marriage in this state from its inception. So I’m saying that I’m listening. I want to make sure that, for something as socially important as this issue is, that I get it right.”

Meanwhile, Skelos said he expects to have a property-tax cap and an extension of rent regulations done by the end of the week.

The state’s rent regulations, which expire tomorrow, have been a point of contention between Senate Republicans, who favor an extension, and Assembly Democrats, who wish to beef them up.

Skelos reiterated that he favors an extension, but said the focus so far this week has been on same-sex marriage.

“We’re moving from issue to issue,” Skelos said. “We passed ethics yesterday. There are some discussions going on now in terms of marriage equality, and we will move into new issues as we move along.”

Entering a meeting with ex-wife and human-rights advocate Kerry Kennedy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there are meetings going on at the staff level on the issue of rent regulations.

Here’s video of Lanza speaking on same-sex marriage:

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