New York senators are expected to take up a long-anticipated gay marriage debate Wednesday, various news outlets are reporting.

The Assembly approved the bill a third time since 2007 late Tuesday in anticipation of today's debate.

Rumors that the bill would finally reach the floor for debate in the Senate, where it faces its final obstacle to passage, slowly surfaced on Tuesday. A spokesman for state Senator Dale Volker assured a local NBC affiliate on Monday that the bill could reach the Senate floor for a vote on Tuesday, but the chamber adjourned without taking up the measure.

Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's largest gay rights advocate, also twitted that it believed the Senate would act on Wednesday. “Marriage WILL be voted on today in the Senate!” the message said.

The bill's sponsor in the Senate, Thomas Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan, told media outlets on Wednesday that the measure would be approved, if only by a razor-thin margin.

But passage is far from a foregone conclusion. Democrats, who hold a slim two seat majority, are not united on the issue. At least five members publicly oppose the legislation. And a change of heart after Maine voters “vetoed” a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring seems unlikely.

For passage, at least three Republicans would need to cross the aisle to vote with Democrats. That also seems unlikely considering no Republican senator publicly supports gay marriage. Adding pressure to Republicans is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, which has threatened to unseat Republicans that favor the bill.

The bill remains a priority for Governor David Paterson, who is expected to quickly sign the bill if approved.

Win or lose, gay activists say they want a vote on the bill to put senators on record.

UPDATE: Debate on the issue began about noon.