The New York Senate has delayed a vote on a gay marriage bill, the New York Times reported.

If and when senators will vote on the bill remains a contentious issue between gay rights activists who've lobbied all year in favor of the bill and lawmakers who continue to put off a vote. Senators said Tuesday closing a $3 billion budget gap was a more pressing matter.

Yet, lawmakers adjourned without a resolution on either.

Advocates have relentlessly pressed for a vote, calling the budget an “excuse” not to act on the legislation.

“Of course, budget matters are important,” Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's largest gay advocate, said in a statement. “But the reality is that there have always been budget problems in Albany and probably always will be.”

“It is time for the New York state Senate to take up the issue of marriage equality. Millions of gay and lesbian New Yorkers and their friends and families expect and deserve a vote on this matter in the state Senate,” he added.

New York Governor David Paterson has asked lawmakers in the Senate, where the bill faces its final obstacle to becoming law, to vote on the bill during an extraordinary session that opened Tuesday. Paterson placed the gay marriage bill on the agenda but he cannot force lawmakers to act on it.

On Monday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn urged senators to approve the gay marriage bill.

Quinn, who is openly lesbian and engaged to marry her partner if the law is approved, became emotional when asked about the bill during a news conference at City Hall. She urged lawmakers to “stand up and say that everybody's family matters.” Bloomberg, a former Republican turned Independent, wrote to lawmakers, saying the bill “advances the fundamental democratic idea that government should treat all people equally and that all persons stand equal before the law.”

Lawmakers, however, might continue to resist such calls after several gay rights losses on Election Day. Maine voters easily repealed a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring. Voters in New Jersey ousted Governor Jon Corzine who had promised to sign a gay marriage bill into law if reelected.

In New York, gay marriage opponents pressured a moderate Republican who voted in favor of gay marriage to drop her bid for New York's 23rd Congressional District. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, took credit when support among Republicans for Dede Scozzafava collapsed. NOM President Maggie Gallager crowed about her group's opposition to Scozzafava in blog posts published at the National Review's website. Gallagher said the group sent out 160,000 pieces of mail and made more than 250,000 robocalls to voters in the district informing them on Scozzafava's position on gay marriage.

And NOM has promised similar retribution to any Republican in New York who does not toe the conservative line.

Republican support is clearly needed for the measure to pass, as several Democratic senators have publicly stated their opposition to the bill. No Republican senator publicly supports gay marriage.

Whether the measure passes or fails, gay marriage advocates say they want a vote to put senators on record.