Saturday, June 25, 2011

Update - Gay Marriage Bill Passes In New York, Governor Cuomo Signs Same Sex Marriage Bill

New York will be the sixth, and largest, state in the union to adopt gay marriage. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law at 11:15pm on Friday, which means the law will take effect on July 24, 2011.

The decision, which passed 33-29, was the culmination of weeks of contentious debate and negotiations between Governor Cuomo and the GOP-controlled Senate. After the bill passed in the Assembly, it was unclear if 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.

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.

"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.

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. They included Sarah Ellis, who has been in a six-year relationship with her partner, Kristen Henderson, said the measure would enable them to get married in the fall. They have twin toddlers and live in Sea Cliff on Long Island.

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