New York legalizes same-sex marriage

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The New York State Legislature passed a bill Friday that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state. It was signed into law by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. New York now becomes the sixth and largest U.S. state with legalized same-sex marriage. The practice is legal in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and Washington, D.C..

New York State Capitol (2009)
Image: UpstateNYer.

Four Senate Republicans including Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, Roy McDonald of Saratoga Springs, and James Alesi of Rochester, joined 29 Democrats in support, for a margin of 33 to 29. Grisanti defended his vote, stating "I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the same rights I have with my wife". Governor Cuomo referred to the four Republicans as "people of courage and...principle."

I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the same rights I have with my wife

—State Senator Mark Grisanti

Gay rights activists, who had spent over $1 million to lobby legislators, cheered the passage, which had failed two years before and had been debated for several weeks. Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese exclaimed that "History was made today in New York. This victory sends a message that marriage equality across the country will be a reality very soon." New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the passage as leaving the state "stronger than we were yesterday".

But detractors of the bill reacted differently. Chairwoman Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage blamed the state Republican Party for the passage and argued that "sadly it's the families of New York who will pay the worst price of the new government-backed redefinition of marriage." The state's Catholic Church released a statement that commented that the bill "alter[s] radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage [and] leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled".

The new law, which will take effect in 30 days, also allows same-sex couples to be eligible for state marriage benefits.