New York passes historic gay marriage bill

Fri. June 24, 2011 10:54 PM by News Staff

Albany, New York - New York made history Friday night as the State Senate voted 33 to 29 to legalize gay marriage, striking a major victory for gay rights.

Upon news of the vote, hundreds of people began celebrating outside the Stonewall Inn, a Manhattan bar where riots triggered the birth of the gay rights movement in 1969.

"New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted," Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo has promised to sign the bill, which will become law 30 days after its signed.

New York will become the sixth state, and by far the largest, where marriage equality will be extended to all people regardless of sexual orientation.

The passage of the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate was made possible by two Republican senators who had been undecided.

Sen. Stephen Saland, who called it a "vote of conscience" and Sen. Mark Grisanti, a GOP freshman from Buffalo voted for the legislation.

"With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers," said Cuomo.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls the vote "a historic triumph for equality and freedom."

The legislation allows same-sex couples to qualify for the same 1,324 state marriage benefits afforded to straight couples.

Speaking at an LGBT gala in New York City Thursday night, President Barack Obama said that gay couples "deserve the same legal rights" as all couples. The President has said that gay marriage is an issue best addressed by the states.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and Washington, D.C. have legalized gay marriage.