The New York Senate voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, moving the state within a mere formality of becoming the sixth and largest in the nation to allow gays and lesbians to wed.
After days of protracted negotiations, four Republicans ultimately broke with their party to join a near-unanimous Democratic caucus in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal. The bill passed, 33-29.
The State Assembly has already passed companion legislation, which will become law 30 days after Cuomo signs it.
As the New York Times notes, the approval of the bill represents a “reversal of fortune for gay-rights advocates, who just two years ago suffered a humiliating, and unexpected, defeat when a same-sex marriage bill was easily defeated in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats.”
Things were different this time around, however, in large part thanks to Cuomo, who followed through on his campaign promise of making gay marriage one of his chief priorities. Ultimately, his effort, combined with a full-court press from gay rights advocates, was enough to push the proposal through the GOP-controlled Senate.
Once Cuomo signs the bill, New York will join five other states where gays can legally wed: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa (as well as the District of Columbia). Gay marriage was also briefly legal in California until voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008, which currently faces legal challenges.
Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who opposed gay marriage during his campaign last year, was one of four GOP senators who voted for passage. “A man can be wiser today than yesterday, but there can be no respect for that man if he has failed to do his duty," he said.
Given New York’s size, gay advocates hope that victory there will mean national momentum.
“New York sets trends and this is a trend ... that we hope would sweep the country,” Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, told Politico in the lead up to the vote.