1. Gay Marriage

    Marriage Bill Hinged on Religious Freedom

    Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, discusses his affirmative vote for gay marriage in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Friday, June 24, 2011.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Mike Groll / AP

    Governor Andrew Cuomo and three Republican senators negotiated language changes in the gay marriage bill that pushed it over the hump. Republicans wanted legal protection for religious organizations that refused to allow their buildings to be used for same-sex marriage ceremonies. The provision also prevents those organizations from being penalized by state government and provides protection for clergy or other employees who refuse to participate in such ceremonies. Perhaps most importantly, the final law included an inseverability clause that will prevent these protections from being overturned: if any part is ever found to be invalid, the rest will go down as well.

    Read it at The New York Times