ALBANY, N.Y. —Same-sex marriage is now legal in New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that was narrowly passed by state lawmakers Friday, handing activists a breakthrough victory in the state where the gay rights movement was born.
New York will become the sixth state where gay couples can wed and the biggest by far.
Gay rights advocates are hoping the vote will galvanize the movement around the country and help it regain momentum after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009 and similar measures failed in 2010 in New Jersey and this year in Maryland and Rhode Island.
"Once this is signed into law, the population of the United States living under marriage equality doubles," said Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda in an interview. "That's certainly going to have a ripple effect across the nation. It's truly a historic night for love, our families, and democracy won."
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Though New York is a relative latecomer in allowing gay marriage, it is considered an important prize for advocates, given the state's size, New York City's international stature. The gay rights movement is considered to have started with the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1969.
The New York bill cleared the Republican-controlled Senate on a 33-29 vote. The Democrat-led Assembly, which previously approved the bill, passed the Senate's stronger religious exemptions in the measure Friday. Same-sex couples can begin marrying 30 days after Cuomo's signature.