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Several of the most emotional and eloquent speeches supporting marriage equality were delivered by black senators. JUMP to watch the speeches.
Ruth Hassell-Thompson's was perhaps the most heartbreaking: Her late brother was gay. "This is the first time I've ever mentioned this publicly," she explained, adding that he moved to France in the l950s to escape the bitter prejudice and homophobia in America. She also told the story of growing up in a family of ministers. "And now my sister is the family minister and she would not agree with my vote. My church condemns this ... but even I, who received some 99 percent plurality of the vote, was not elected to be the moral arbiter of the people...That is between them and their God. People deserve the right to choose and have dignity"
Hassell-Thompson was brought to tears and was consoled by Thomas K. Duane, the senate's sole openly gay member and the marriage equality bill's lead sponsor.
Brooklyn's Eric Adams also delivered a stirring speech. The former NYPD sergeant has often spoke out gay rights and said the marriage equality vote "would be a defining moment" of his career. Adams read a list of the states prohibiting marriage equality and added: "Alabama...Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi...North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. What do they have in common? At one time or another, they all sold blacks as property and participated in legal slavery." Adams added that New York had a history of "setting the tone" for the country and "must set an example."
Adams and Hassell-Thompson's speeches are required viewing. Watch their powerful testimony WHEN YOU JUMP.
The outlook for a marriage equality bill in Albany is not good. The New York State Senate convened at noon for the special session called by Gov. David A. Paterson. The Senate has reportedly delayed the highly anticipated vote on marriage "indefinitely as gay rights supporters continued to lobby for additional votes", reports the New York Times.
Republicans and Democrats said that as of Tuesday afternoon the measure was still several votes short of the 32 necessary for approval. About five Democrats remained either opposed or noncommittal, meaning that Republican votes were needed to secure passage.But not enough Republicans have committed yet to voting yes, legislators said. The Democrats have a slim 32-30 majority in the Senate.
It was unclear when the Senate would take the issue up. Wednesday is Veteran’s Day and a holiday, meaning that it would be at least the end of the week before they could vote on the bill. "It sounds like today is just not going to be the day," said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat from Manhattan who has been one of the same-sex marriage bill’s main proponents. "There are a lot of us who want to see it voted on and passed as soon as possible. So if today’s not the day, I think our views on the overall strategy don’t change."
Senators entered the chamber shortly after noon and took up a resolution honoring veterans. When Brooklyn's Dem. Sen. Eric Adams took the floor, he explicitly linked recognition of veterans to the proposed marriage equality vote. Said Adams: "There is no greater honor we can give our veterans than to ensure that every American, regardless of their gender, has the right to marry."
About an hour ago, the Daily News' Liz Benjamin quoted one source involved in the senate's marriage equality bill negotiations who said, "It is not coming to the floor." Benjamin says equality advocates were "once confident of 27 firm 'yes' votes from the Democrats" and up to a half dozen Republicans seemed "gettable".
The budget deficit that now exceeds $3 billion is apparently the issue. With no agreement between the governor and legislative leaders on how to reduce the deficit, many senators are unwilling to put same-sex marriage up for a vote first.
The Senate has not adjourned yet.
UPDATE: 2:20ET Majority Leader Sen. Pedro Espada Jr tells the Times: "We’ll come back next week."