Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law at 11:15pm on Friday, which means the law will take effect in 30 days on July 24, 2011.
New York, the nation’s third most populous state, will join Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., in allowing same-sex couples to wed.
The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved 33 to 29 in a Senate chamber. Four members of the Republican majority joined all but one Democrat in the Senate in supporting the measure after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes.
The approval of the bill became the culmination of weeks of intense debate and negotiations between Governor Cuomo and the GOP-controlled Senate. After the bill passed in the Assembly, it was still unclear whether the bill had secured enough votes to pass in the Senate. When a few notable undecideds joined the cause –including Republican Roy McDonald who famously defended his decision, saying “fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing” — the scale in favor of gay marriage seemed to tip.
Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the vote on Friday, saying that “I am always proud to be a New Yorker. Tonight, I am especially proud to be a New Yorker.”
Cuomo, a Democrat pledged last year to support same-sex marriage but whose early months in office were dominated by intense battles with lawmakers and some labor unions over spending cuts.
Governor Cuomo made same-sex marriage one of his top priorities for the year. He deployed his top aide to coordinate the efforts of a half-dozen local gay-rights organizations whose feuding and disorganization had in part been blamed for the defeat two years ago.
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.
The night before, President Barack Obama encouraged lawmakers to support gay rights during a fundraiser with New York City’s gay community. The vote also is sure to charge up annual gay pride events this weekend, culminating with parades Sunday in New York City, San Francisco and other cities.
White House spokesman Shin Inouye told The Huffington Post that “The President has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.” Inouye added that, “The states should determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens. The process in New York worked just as it should.”
A number of celebrities also praised the vote. Pink tweeted, “congratulations! About time!” and Lady Gaga tweeted that she couldn’t stop crying.
Hundreds of gays and lesbians had gathered at the LGBT lodestone in Greenwich Village, waiting and hoping and praying – some in drag – that their officials in the state Senate would grant them the long-sought-after equality.
They held Technicolor banners, chanted slogans as loudly as their lungs would allow and sang, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
And then news of the vote reached them with all the heraldry of a score of trumpets unleashing a thunderous bellow.
“This has been a long road,” said a gleeful Gilbert Baker, 60, of Harlem, the self-professed inventor of the rainbow flag.
“Having gay marriage is not going to stop homophobia, but it’s going to send a message to the country and the world that if we can do it in New York, we can do it anywhere.”
“We knew it was going to be a matter of when – not if,” said Robert Ostergaard, 44, of Chelsea. “That’s the arc of history.”
“It was a huge disappointment last time, when the bill didn’t pass,” said Paul Feinman, 46, of Chelsea, who is engaged to Ostergaard. “I’m overjoyed and at a loss for words. I’m thrilled that I don’t have to go to Massachusetts.”
“I would love to have the dream that little girls always have,” said Andie Santiago, 25, standing with Mary Rodriguez, her 30-year-old paramour, at the Stonewall Inn, where the LGBT movement kicked off. “I want my mother to be able to see me in my wedding dress.” [via The New York Times, Huffpost and New York Daily News]