New York legalizes gay marriage Friday night
New York governor Andrew Cuomo legalized gay marriage just before midnight on Friday, which is a huge victory for gay rights before the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
New York is the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage. The vote went through Friday evening 33-29 in favor of gay marriage. Cuomo is a Democrat and introduced the measure and signed it into law five minutes before midnight. The law will take effect in 30 days.
Cuomo said after the victory:
This vote will send a message across the country. This is the way to go, the time to do it is now, and it’s achievable; it’s no longer a dream or an aspiration. I think you’re going to see a rapid evolution…We reached a new level of social justice.
It was only two years ago that gay marriage bills were defeated in the then Democrat-controlled Senate with every Republican voting against the measure. Surprisingly four Republicans joined 29 Democrats to give the bill one vote more than was needed to pass. Cuomo called the four Republicans, Stephen Saland of Pughkeepsie, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Roy McDonald of Saratoga Springs and James Alesi of Rochester “people of courage and people of principle.”
Grisanti and Saland admitted that they were undecided before the vote began. Both said that they grew up in traditional backgrounds where a marriage is considered to be between a man and a woman. They both also said that they would be upsetting a lot of people with their votes, especially Grisanti who told people several weeks ago that he would vote against the bill. Grisanti ultimately concluded that as a Catholic he was opposed to gay marriage, but as a lawyer he couldn’t justify denying gay couples equal rights to which they are entitled.
Not only can gay couples say “I do” in NYC, but they’re also entitled to the 1,324 marriage benefits that straight couples are entitled to. Same-sex couples, however, still won’t be eligible for federal marriage benefits due to the Defense of Marriage Act. Still, gay activists who had camped out for days at the Capitol, cried and cheered when the bill passage was announced.