Note from Bil:Rev Emily Heath is spending the day in Albany to monitor New York's proposed legislation to legalize marriage equality. She'll be sending in dispatches throughout the day and this post will be updated as news comes in.
12:37pm - Arriving in Capitol after pastoral work this morning. Protesters are being corralled in certain areas of building. We are hearing that Senate typically adjourns for Shabbos which means it may not be possible to debate late tonight.
1:00pm - Upon hearing that some areas are closed off to all but press, we have been attempting to get press credentials for Bilerico. We spoke to the Minority Press office (Democrats) who sent us to the Sgt. at Arms. He refused to allow access without written credentials and refuse to speak to Bil on the phone. We were told to check with Majority Press office who asked Bil for copies of all my work from this week. We were told we could be escorted to gallery if we came back when the Senate was going back into session, but no official credentials. It's an interesting commentary on the role and acceptance of new media.
More updates after the break.
1:02pm - Despite word that protesters would not be allowed in halls, there are people from both sides chanting and singing on third floor with signs. They are further removed than they were on previous days, but here none-the-less.
1:17pm - More "Corn is not a vegetable. Stop redefing things," signs today. We hear the "Big Ugly" bills are being printed now.
1:30pm - We are hearing the "Big Ugly" (now called Affordable Housing Act) bills will be printed by 2. No firm confirmation.
2:09pm - GOP is still in conference. Hearing Sen. Ball has said they are just now getting to marriage equality.
Chants of "one, two, threw, four, bring the bill to the floor".
There are rumors that part of the reason the Senate adjourned last night is because protester tension was so high.
2:26pm - New sign among anti-equality crowd: We are Christian and we vote. Um, me too.
2:31pm - NY1 is reporting that Cuomo's office confirms all bills are being printed.
2:44pm - We are still waiting to hear from the GOP controlled Majority Press Office, which controls press access, about our credential request from this morning.
3:20pm - While we are in this holding pattern, can I just say how much I like Assemblyman Joel Miller. Yesterday he told a Tea Party protestor he just didn't like bigotry. Later he told us that he ran on same sex marriage as a Republican and it never hurt him.
3:27pm - I'm hanging out in the Capitol library, writing my sermon for Sunday. Translation: It's going to be a while.
3:42pm - Democrats going into conference at 4pm to look at drafts of legislation.
4:05pm - Intermingled with our chants, a woman keeps screeching "vote no". It sounds strangely like a disco whistle. I'm afraid some gays are going to start a dance party up in here.
4:12pm - We are hearing "Big Ugly" (housing bill) has been delivered to both chambers.
4:14pm - Equality supporters countering anti-gay chants from religious right by singing a Gospel classic.
4:21pm - There are initial reports that the GOP is conferencing now on marriage equality. We are hearing there might be religious exemption agreement.
4:30pm - The "Big Ugly" is out in print and released to public.
4:30pm - Equality folks singing "Going to the Chapel". Other side shouting, "no you're not".
4:49pm - LGBT folks are singing, "Jesus loves me...oh yes he does."
4:57pm - Reading the exemptions I see nothing new that is not already granted to clergy and religious institutions. But if it helps it get passed, go for it.
5:03pm - From the inbox:
Statement from New Yorkers United for Marriage
New Yorkers United for Marriage is a coalition of leading New York LGBT rights organizations fighting so that all couples in New York State have the freedom to marry the person they love.
The Empire State Pride Agenda is the statewide civil rights and advocacy group committed to achieving full equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and our families. For twenty years we have been educating policymakers, elected officials and thepublic, building coalitions and mobilizing allies, lobbying government officials, administering a Political Action Committee, and organizing and empowering the LGBT community. Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings. The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Marriage Equality New York (MENY) is a grassroots, volunteer based, single-issue organization dedicated to securing the right for all New Yorkers to enter into legally recognized civil marriages. With local chapters throughout New York State, MENY is leading the fight for equality, helping educate local and state politicians and candidates to support equal marriage rights legislation. Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's only organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom and equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Log Cabin has state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time office in Washington, D.C., a federal political action committee and state political action committees.
5:09pm - Walking through hall a large group of LGBT folks grabbed me and asked me to pray with them. We prayed that the Senate would see God's love in us and that "justice would roll down like waters".
5:16pm - A staffer just told his mom he hoped to be out at 1am.
5:20pm - We are hearing that with agreement to amendments made in Assembly, their Speaker Silver has left for Shabbos.
5:24pm - There is some concern that the bill has a non-severability clause so if one clause is challenged and struck down, all will be.
Staffers chatting: "We're in recess until 6. So, obviously more like 8."
5:36pm - Two senators have gone on the record to say there will be a vote tonight.
5:48pm - Senator Skelos has confirmed the bill is coming to the floor.
5:51pm - Screams of joy. Shouts of "it's going to the floor".
6:02pm - Senator Skelos is downplaying whether or not it will pass.
6:18pm - A lot of speculation on timing. I'm hearing everything from 8pm to 1am. I'm thinking the latter is more accurate.
6:20pm - When news of announcement reached the crowd.
6:27pm - Crowd and chanting intensify.
6:28pm - Senate back in session.
6:29pm - Note from Bil: I've added a livestream of the Senate proceedings to the bottom of the post. It'll stay there and updates will continue to follow this one.
6:32pm - Senate at ease for Rules. A supporter brought us all peanut butter and jelly, and chips. A straight supporter who is 35 weeks pregnant has been here since 10am.
6:37pm - The gallery lines have been closed. Which is to say the galleries are full.
6:43pm - NY Senate twitter feed says "quite a while" before vote.
6:50pm - Senate will be in and out of Rules multiple times. There are other bills up before marriage.
7:09pm - SUNY 2020 is currently being debated. After that the other controversial bills. Then Rules. Then us.
7:17pm - Both sides are intermingling.
7:21pm - As you can see, tensions are high and they are letting sides stand together. In Massachusetts they had opposing folks in different areas. I hope this doesn't get out of control.
7:47pm - In NY Senate: housing act. In assembly: marriage amendments. Talk that as many as 6 GOP senators will vote yes.
7:55pm - Just came out of Assembly gathering. They passed the amendments. Clappig for members, many of whom had rainbow flags on their desks.
8:25pm - They are currently on the Omnibus bill. After this they will take up the livery bills. Then they will move to Rules. And then, justice.
8:40pm - The omnibus bill has passed. We are getting close.
8:51pm - The livery bill just passed. Drivers cheering happily.
8:55pm - 15 minute GOP caucus now. Most likely Rules after that. Then, hopefully, us.
9:09pm - Getting closer here. We hear "Victory is Mine" rising to the area outside the gallery the next floor up.
9:15pm - We are hearing the bill may skip Rules an come straight for a vote.
9:18pm - More police in gallery. GOP returning.
9:20pm - We are back in session.
9:26pm - Senators taking seats. Vote imminent.
9:28pm - I'm seeing fewer and fewer opponents in Capitol.
9:31pm - Everyone just went silent.
9:34pm - Debate has begun.
9:36pm - This is the amendment we are debating. There will be a vote on this and then the bill.
9:38pm - Multiple reports Sen. Saland is the 32nd vote.
9:44pm - Saland is a "yes."
9:50pm - Majority of gallery is pro. Diaz asking Saland to yield for questions.
9:51pm - Roll call on amendment.
9:55pm - Amendment for religious exemptions passed by a vote of 36-26. Wild cheers.
9:56pm - And...the Human Rights Campaign just erroneously tweeted the bill passed. Um...
10:01pm - Diaz is out of order.
10:05pm - Apparently there is a long list of speakers. Duane speaking now.
10:08pm - We are hearing Grisanti for 33.
10:12pm - Openly gay Senator Duane just spoke. Now Grisanti.
10:17pm - Grisanti votes affirmative.
10:19pm - Gallery just went standing room only.
10:26pm - Sen. Carl Kruger speaks. Last speaker.
10:30pm - We won! Ayes 33, Nays 29. Marriage equality in New York passes. Cuomo should definitely sign. Law will take effect 30 days after Cuomo's signature.
10:35pm - Shouts of "yes we can". Refrains of "Going to the chapel".
10:39pm - Chants of "thank you Senate" and "this is what democracy looks like".
10:46pm - Celebrations and cheering still ongoing in Capitol. Word Governor will speak soon.
10:49pm - Folks are slowly leaving. Great jubilation. Many are headed out to Albany gay bars to celebrate.
10:56pm - This is my last post of evening. Thank you for following me today. Thank you NY for doing what was right. God bless us all.