New York's State Senate dealt a crushing blow to proponents of same-sex marriage Wednesday afternoon, defeating a bill that would have allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry 38-24.
The loss will be particularly disheartening for those working for passage because Democrats had been confident in recent days that they had the votes necessary to win. Moreover, had the Senate approved the bill, it would most likely have become law very quickly, perhaps even by the end of this week. The State Assembly has already passed it -- three times, in fact, because of previous failures in the Senate and a peculiarity in New York law -- and Gov. David Paterson has been a strong proponent; he's said he'd sign the bill as soon as he receives it.
One other factor had made New York a particularly attractive battleground for proponents of same-sex marriage: Whereas opponents were able to use referenda to successfully fight the legalization of same-sex weddings in states like California and Maine, New York law doesn't allow voters to overrule their legislature in that way.