On becoming the 6th state in the US to legalize gay marriage. The other states that allow it are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Seriously, California, this is getting embarrassing.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s gay marriage bill into law late Friday, paving the way for what is expected to be a crush of gay weddings starting in 30 days.
The Democratic governor signed the measure shortly before midnight, following up on a promise to put his name on the legislation as soon as he received it rather than wait the usual 10 days to sign it for it to become law.
The signing came hours after New York lawmakers narrowly voted to legalize same-sex marriage, handing activists a breakthrough victory in the state where the gay rights movement was born.
Mike Groll / AP
New York will become the sixth state where gay couples can wed and the biggest by far.
“We are leaders and we join other proud states that recognize our families and the battle will now go on in other states,” said Sen. Thomas Duane, a Democrat.
Gay rights advocates are hoping the vote will galvanize the movement around the country and help it regain momentum after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009 and similar measures failed in 2010 in New Jersey and this year in Maryland and Rhode Island.
Though New York is a relative latecomer in allowing gay marriage, it is considered an important prize for advocates, given the state’s size and New York City’s international stature and its role as the birthplace of the gay rights movement, which is considered to have started with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in 1969.
A huge street party erupted outside the Stonewall Inn Friday night, with celebrants waving rainbow flags and dancing after the historic vote.
The New York bill cleared the Republican-controlled state Senate on a 33-29 vote. The Democrat-led Assembly, which passed a different version last week, is expected to pass the new version with stronger religious exemptions.
The passage of New York’s legislation was made possible by two Republican senators who had been undecided.
Sen. Stephen Saland voted against a similar bill in 2009, helping kill the measure and dealing a blow to the national gay rights movement.
“While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience,” Saland said in a statement to The Associated Press before the vote. “I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality.”
Gay couples in gallery wept during Saland’s speech.
Sen. Mark Grisanti, a GOP freshman from Buffalo, also said he would vote for the bill. Grisanti said he could not deny anyone what he called basic rights.
‘Beacon of social justice’
Cuomo spoke on television after the vote and called New York a “beacon of social justice.”
Earlier, in a statement obtained by NBC News, Cuomo praised the Legislature.
“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,” Cuomo said.
“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,” he added.
New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the bill’s passage, calling it a “historic triumph for equality and freedom” in a statement.
“By welcoming all people — no matter where they are from, what faith or philosophy they follow, or whom they love — New York became the strongest, most dynamic city in the world. And today, we are even stronger than we were yesterday,” he said.
Bloomberg was mid-sentence at a press conference on the city budget when City Council Speaker Christine Quinn interrupted him to announce that the marriage bill had passed.
The room erupted in cheers from other lawmakers and staff, as Quinn — the first gay person to hold the job — embraced her colleagues and smiled, tears welling in her eyes.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling of having the law of your state changed to say that you … are a full member of the state and that your family is as good as any other family,” she said.
A number of celebrities praised the Senate vote. Lady Gaga, who lobbied for the bill, tweeted that she couldn’t stop crying, while Pink tweeted, “congratulations!!!!!!!!! About time!”
“I have never be prouder to be a lifelong New Yorker than I am today with the passage of marriage equality,” Cyndi Lauper said in a statement.