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New York lawmakers delay same-sex marriage vote until Friday

After hours of debate, the Republican-controlled New York Senate put off a vote on same-sex marriage until Friday. The sticking point remains exemptions to protect religious groups from civil lawsuits if they refuse to preside over same-sex ceremonies.

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Protesters take part in a demonstration supporting same- sex marriages outside the hotel where President Barack Obama was attending a function in New York June 23. Obama touted his efforts to advance gay rights and promised further progress, but stopped short of declaring his support for legalizing same- sex marriage.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

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After hours of closed-door meetings, the Republican-controlled New York Senate gave up for the night on same-sex marriage, promising to return to the contentious issue Friday morning.

The Democratic-dominated Assembly last week approved the bill, which would make New York the sixth and most populous state to permit same-sex marriages, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has promised to sign it.

The sticking point remains exemptions to protect religious groups from civil lawsuits if they refuse to preside over or host same-sex ceremonies.

At the moment, 31 lawmakers in the Assembly – 29 Democrats and 2 Republicans – say they’ll vote for the same-sex marriage bill. But that’s one vote short of the necessary majority, and supporters would like to have more than 32 so that no single senator would be seen as casting the deciding vote.

"If there is an announcement prior to the vote, it will not be just one senator. No one wants to be the 32nd vote," Dan Weiller, a spokesman for Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's largest gay-rights group, told Reuters.

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