NY One Vote Away from Legalizing Gay Marriage

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The state of New York is just one vote shy of approving legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, a second Republican lawmaker, Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, said he plans to support the bill, creating a 31-31 tie in the state Senate.

"These social votes are very difficult. Telling people how to live their own personal lives is very difficult," McDonald said.

His decision has put enormous pressure on supporters of traditional marriage. Gay marriage advocates now need just one more senator to sign on and they'll have enough votes to pass a bill. 

The vote could happen on Friday, which may be the last day of the legislative session.   

GOP Contenders Weigh In

Whether the federal government or states should ultimately define marriage is a hot topic among GOP presidential candidates right now. 

During Monday's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, CNN anchor and debate moderator John King asked whether same-sex marriage should be decided by federal or state legislation. 

Both Herman Cain and Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., said the matter was clearly a state issue.

"I don't see that it's the role of presidents to go into states and interfere with their state's law," Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., said.
   
But other candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said it's a federal issue.

"I support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman," Pawlenty stated.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said the matter concerned both the federal and state governments.

A constitutional amendment involves the states. Three-quarters of the states have to ratify it so the states will be involved in this process," he explained.
   
Sen. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has perhaps the most distinctive take on the issue.  He argues that government should get out of the marriage business.

"Get the government out of it. Why doesn't it go to the church and the individuals?" he challenged. "I don't think the government should give us a license to get married.  I think it should be in the church."

DOMA Under Fire

Meanwhile, the federal law that defines marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),  is under attack yet again this week. 

On Monday, the country's largest consumer bankruptcy court declared the law unconstitutional.

"In the court's final analysis, the government's only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land … in disregard of the personal status and living conditions of a significant segment of our pluralistic society," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Donovan concluded.

Legal experts don't expect this case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court yet -- but they predict that's where DOMA will ultimately be decided.

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