Updated 06/25/2011 04:59 PM
New Yorkers React To Passage Of Same-Sex Marriage Bill
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Friday night's historic yet divisive vote by the State Senate to legalize same-sex marriage in New York has many people talking, including those who fought hard for and against it.
Members of the senate approved the Marriage Equality Act by a vote of 33 to 29.
The bill needed 32 votes to pass, but with only 31 senators publicly supporting it, final passage was uncertain for several weeks.
Republican Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie became the crucial 32nd vote.
"I have, as many people are aware, certainly struggled over this issue," said Saland. "It has been an extremely difficult issue to deal with. But I can say my intellectual and emotional journey has ended here today. And I have to define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality and that equality includes within the definition of marriage."
"What this state said today brings this discussion of marriage equality to a new plane. That's the power and beauty of New York," said Cuomo. "The other states look to New York for the progressive direction and what we said today was you look to New York once again because New York made a powerful statement, not only for the people of New York, but for the people across this nation. We reached a new level of social justice this evening."
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill just before midnight.
Gay couples will now be able to marry in New York State starting July 24th.
The new law includes protections for religious groups, saying they will not be subject to legal action for refusing same-sex marriage ceremonies.
New York is now the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex marriage.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, was at a news conference about the city budget when she got the news that the same-sex marriage bill had passed.
Quinn got emotional when talking about the new law to reporters.
"To say that you, what you know if your heart is true, that you are a full member of the state. And that your family is as good as any other family. And tomorrow my family will gather for my niece's college graduation party. And that will be a totally different day because we'll get to talk about when our wedding will be and what it will look like," Quinn said.
"New York has become the strongest most dynamic city in the world and I think it's safe to say that today we are stronger than we were yesterday," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The mayor also watched NY1's live coverage as the State Senate gathered for the historic vote.
The same-sex marriage vote set off celebrations across the city.
For those gathered at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the bill's passage was a dream come true.
"Amazing. I'm happy. I'm very happy. It's time, it's time," said one gay New Yorker.
"The fact that the gay marriage law just got passed is amazing. It's a shine of beacon to the rest of the world. Thank you very much New York," said another.
"Sixteen years in May and we're already setting the date. New York did the right thing," said a third.
The historic bar is widely viewed as the place where the gay rights movement got its start back in 1969.
Meantime, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and other bishops across the state are blasting the same-sex marriage law.
In a statement, the bishops say the vote to change the understanding of marriage leaves them "deeply disappointed and troubled."
The reaction among worshipers outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral was mixed Sunday.
"The Bible says a man and a woman are basically to be married. Anything outside of that I don't believe is correct," said one church goer.
"I'm Catholic but I believe people have a right to do whatever they want to do. It's their business," said another.
"I have nothing against the gay community. I really, honestly don't. And I believe in equality. However, in terms of marriage and the sacrament, you know, we believe it's a holy sacrament, matrimony," said a third.
As an organized religion, the Catholic Church views marriage as only existing between a man and a woman.