ALBANY - (AP) - New York's three top political leaderssupport several additional religious exceptions to a gay marriagebill and are in critical negotiations over wording.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Republicanleader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly SpeakerSheldon Silver say that while there's no deal, talks areencouraging.

Cuomo's bill must include enough protections so religious groupsthat oppose gay marriage aren't hit with discrimination lawsuits.

Those provisions are intended not just for the undecidedsenators but to satisfy the whole Republican conference enough tosend the bill to a floor vote.

Cuomo said Wednesday he's optimistic his bill will pass in thecoming days.

New York's action is being watched closely as a pivotal momentin the national gay rights movement.

Gay marriage bill tabled; showdown loomsState Senate Republicans put off vote on same-sex marriage bill