Late Friday night, the State Senate voted to recognize same-sex marriage. A similar bill was defeated in the State Senate in 2009. In both instances, the Assembly easily passed the measure.
The governor quickly signed the bill into law, which will take effect in just under 30 days. New York is the sixth state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
"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," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Instrumental in passing the bill this time around were the votes of state senators Carl Kruger from Brooklyn and Joseph Addabbo, Jr. and Shirley Huntley from Queens. All three voted against same-sex marriage in 2009. Also instrumental were the votes of four Republican state senators, who defied their party to vote in favor of the measure.
The vote on same-sex marriage nearly didn't make it to the floor of the State Senate before the legislature went on summer break. Part of the holdup was debate over protections for religious organizations, which some lawmakers feared would be forced to perform same-sex marriages or else be subject to potential discrimination lawsuits.
The legislation distinguishes between a civil marriage and a religious marriage.
The legalization of same-sex marriage added a fresh excitement to the annual Gay Pride Parade on Fifth Avenue Sunday. And openly gay councilman Daniel Dromm of Jackson heights celebrated the vote by cutting a wedding cake Saturday morning.
“It is truly a historic moment for our LGBT community and one that marks a momentous civil rights victory,” Dromm said.
But not everyone was thrilled by the vote. The Conservative Party of New York State issued a statement saying that legalizing same-sex marriage was the beginning of the end for family values.
"Some will celebrate the fact that the long-standing definition of marriage has been changed, but New Yorkers will soon realize that the inevitable decline of the family will not be celebrated,” read the release.
And largely absent from the debate in Albany was the Catholic Church, which put very little pressure on lawmakers to vote against same-sex marriage. However, after services at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said that he was feeling “low” about the vote.