For several years, gay marriage rights has been a social issue that has sharply split the Democratic-run Assembly and the Republican-led Senate.
In 2007, following a long and emotional debate, the Assembly approved a measure legalizing same-sex marriages. Backed by then Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, the Assembly stance has since been roundly embraced by Gov. David A. Paterson since he took office earlier this spring.
But during the previous two sessions, the Senate beat back lobbying efforts to have New York join other states that have legalized gay marriage.
Now, things are fuzzier. Republicans are at risk of losing their Senate majority to Democrats. But still unclear is whether here would l be enough support to pass bill.
Supporters of gay marriage rights, however, believe they stand a far better chance if the GOP loses control of the Senate. And from around the country, money is pouring into Senate Democratic races from people and organizations with an interest in having New York join Massachusetts, California and Connecticut with marriage equality laws.
Donors say it's about simple civil rights, and that sooner or later New York is going to legalize such marriages.
Opponents say a Democratic shift in the Senate would result in the legalization of gay marriage -- perhaps the first of many social policies that would change in Senate that had been dominated by Republicans for seven decades.