New York Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Major Gay Rights Victory

Posted June 25th, 2011 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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New York has become the sixth U.S. state to legalize same sex marriage.

By a vote of 33 to 29, the legislature in the populous northeastern state approved a bill late Friday allowing same-sex unions after four Republicans crossed party lines to support it. Gay rights advocates hailed the vote, calling it a major victory in their quest for equality.

A short time after the vote, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law allowing gay couples to begin marrying in the state in 30 days.

New York, which has no residency requirements in order to obtain a marriage license, could now become a magnet for such marriages.

Street parties broke out in traditionally gay sections of New York City on news of the legislation's passage. Scores congregated at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the city's Greenwich Village that police raided in 1969. The incident is considered the birth of the modern gay rights movement.

A gay parade is taking place in New York City on Saturday.

Activists consider New York's approval of gay marriages particularly significant since it is the third most populous U.S. state and because of New York City's international stature.

The vote in the New York Senate — the lower chamber had approved the legislation earlier — followed days of contentious debate that centered on legal protections for churches and religious groups that oppose same-sex marriages. Lawmakers eventually agreed on language allowing them to refuse to perform such marriages or provide space for them.

New York now joins Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and Washington, D.C. in allowing gay couples to marry.