Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill

June 15, 2011 Updated Jun 15, 2011 at 11:24 PM EDT

By John Borsa

June 15, 2011 Updated Jun 15, 2011 at 11:24 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) Catholic Church leaders and pro-gay marriage activists continue to lobby Republicans in the New York Senate on the governor's gay marriage bill.

The Marriage Equality Act was introduced on Tuesday and will legalize gay marriage in New York.

Lawmakers debated the bill in the Assembly, where it passed.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued this statement Wednesday night:

"The vote by the State Assembly has moved New York one step closer to making marriage equality a reality. I applaud these legislators' prompt and courageous support on this measure, which will finally allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry and provide them with hundreds of rights that others take for granted. I commend Speaker Sheldon Silver for his leadership and Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell for his tireless work fighting for equality. We are on the verge of a pinnacle moment for this state."

But the bill's future in the Senate is uncertain.

Republican leaders met for four hours this morning with no decision on whether to bring the measure to a vote.

31 senators, including two Republicans, have pledged to support the measure.

The bill needs one more vote in the Senate to pass.

Still undecided is Republican Mark Grisanti, the state senator from Buffalo.

He declined to comment when contacted by Eyewitness News on Tuesday night.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the push was on to get Grisanti to commit to a yes vote.

Kitty Lambert, president of the pro-gay marriage group Outspoken for Equality delivered hundreds of letters to Grisanti's downtown Buffalo office.

"This will be an amazing moment," Lambert said. "An absolutely amazing moment. And these men will go down in history as champions of equality."

The governor's bill contains exemptions for religious organizations and churches, but some Republican lawmakers feel the protections do not go far enough.

The Catholic Church continues to pressure lawmakers to vote against the bill. Church leaders and priests have been calling Senator Grisanti's office all day, according to a staffer.