NY inches toward action on its gay marriage bill

By the Associated Press | June 22, 2011 | 7:59 AM EDT

Todd Plank of Rochester, N.Y., holds a sign during a marriage equality rally at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. National advocates and opponents are watching the marriage debate, waiting to see if New York will restart momentum or kill it the way it did two years ago. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made passing gay marriage a key policy initiative in his first year in office. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Protection for religious groups is the last major issue to be worked out in the ongoing negotiations over a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages in New York state.

Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo plan Wednesday to resume talks over legal protections sought by religious groups who fear they'll be hit with discrimination lawsuits if they refuse to allow their facilities to be used for gay weddings. If an agreement is reached, the Republican-led Senate could decide to send the bill to the floor for a public vote, or kill.

That floor vote could be as soon as late Wednesday or Thursday.

The Democrat-led Assembly is ready to adopt the religious protections.

Action was held up Tuesday as legislative leaders wrapped up a mega-deal on other issues.