New York legalizes same-sex marriage

(image: Alan Light, Flickr)

“I cannot deny a person, a human being, a worker … people across this state … the same rights I have with my wife,” said New York Sen. Mark J. Grisanti (R-60th District) before declaring the 33rd “yes” vote the New York Senate needed to pass the Marriage Equality Act.

“I’m not here as just a Catholic,” Grisanti told his colleagues on the Senate floor Friday night, five days past the state’s original legislative-session deadline. “I’m also here as an attorney … I cannot legally [argue] against same-sex marriage.”

With Grisanti’s vote, the final tally was 33-29. Four Republican state senators joined 29 Democrats in their affirmative voting.

Thirty days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill — which he promised to do Friday night, speaking at a press conference — all individuals of appropriate age and legal status will be able to marry in New York, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“At the end of the day, none of this would have mattered if you didn’t have people of courage and principle [in the legislature],” said Cuomo in praise of lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill. ”I don’t see any legal threat to it.”

New York is the most populous state to legalize gay marriage, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire. And tonight, gay rights organizations throughout the country, particularly those celebrating Pride in the Big Apple this weekend, are rejoicing.

“The hopes and dreams of millions just came true: Marriage equality is about to become the law of the land in New York,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese in a press statement released late Friday.

“Thanks to the passionate leadership of Governor Cuomo, long-standing support from Assembly Speaker Silver, Assemblymember O’Donnell and his Assembly colleagues, thoughtful leadership from Majority Leader Skelos, strong support from Democratic Leader Sampson, Senator Duane and the vast majority of the Democratic conference, as well as the courageous votes of Republican Senators Alesi, Grisanti, McDonald, and Saland, New York will once again be a leader in the struggle for equality,” said Stefan Friedman, of New Yorkers United for Marriage.

“This vote affirms our common humanity,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in a press statement. “It means same-sex couples will no longer have to cross state lines to marry. It means New York lives up to its reputation as a national leader. It honors New York’s unique history as being the place where the modern gay rights movement sprang to life 42 years ago this month at the Stonewall Inn in New York City — a place where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people stood up and fought back for their dignity and rightful place in society. This vote honors the spirit of all those who refused to settle for second-class status.”

However, some gay-rights advocates are facing this news on the defensive.

Let us be clear, though — marriage is not the “end all, be all” of the movement for LGBT civil rights,” wrote GetEQUAL director Robin McGehee in a statement (emphasis from original text). “While we’re thrilled that marriage is now on the books in New York, we’re pained that the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has been shoved to the side by the Republican state legislature despite broad public support. … Today, we’re celebrating Pride with a bit more dignity and a bit more equality — but tomorrow, we have more work to do.”

After pledging at least $500,000 in May to help defeat New York’s same-sex marriage bill, the National Organization for Marriage has accused the GOP of betrayal.

At 10:05 p.m., a NOM staff member posted on its blog:

“Sen. [Stephen] Saland, who told voters he opposed SSM, is now saying he will vote for gay marriage. … We will redouble our efforts. This is not yet a done deal, despite massive GOP betrayal.”

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