NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Activists are calling it a major victory in civil rights as celebrations continue around New York City today after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a same-sex marriage bill into law.
New York became the sixth and largest state in the country to legalize gay marriage after days of heated debates in Albany.
Pending any court challenges, legal gay marriages can begin in New York by late July. Cuomo signed his bill into law just before midnight Friday.
WCBS 880’S Ginny Kosola reports: Cuomo Calls New York A Beacon For Social Justice
A huge street party erupted outside the Stonewall Inn Friday night, with celebrants waving rainbow flags and dancing after the historic vote.
Queens teacher Eugene Lovendusky said he’s “spellbound” and “exhausted” by the outcome of Friday’s vote. The 26-year-old said he’s proud the Senate “finally stood on the right side of history.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the vote “a historic triumph for equality and freedom.”
At Stonewall Inn, Scott Redstone watched New York sign the historic same-sex marriage law with his partner of 29 years, and popped the question.
“I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And he said, ‘Of course!”’ Redstone said he and Steven Knittweis walked home to pop open a bottle of champagne.
A woman also surprised her girlfriend in Greenwich Village by getting down on one knee and asking her hand in marriage. She accepted.
Within 30 days, they and other gay couples will be able to get married in New York and some Lutheran ministers are already preparing to perform those marriages.
The Reverend Katrina Foster is pastor of the Incarnation Lutheran Church in Bridgehampton, Long Island. Reverend Foster is gay and was married in Connecticut to her longtime partner and says the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recognizes her same-sex marriage.
She says the legislation will strengthen marriage, not destroy it. The congregation welcomes openly gay couples.
Celebrities from around New York and around the country are also reacting to the legislation. Many have been sounding off on Twitter since the bill was signed into law.
Lady Gaga on Twitter: “I can’t stop crying. We did it kids.”
Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter: “happy gays r here again !!!!!”
Cyndi Lauper in a statement: “I have never been prouder to be a lifelong New Yorker than I am today with the passage of marriage equality.”
Ricky Martin on Twitter: “Time to celebrate!!! Marriage Equality for NYers! Its about… love!”
Neil Patrick Harris on Twitter: “It PASSED! Marriage equality in NY!! Yes!! Progress!! Thank you everyone who worked so hard on this!! A historic night!”
Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter: “I’m thrilled about the news from NY. Marriage equality! Every day we get a little closer. What an amazing feeling.”
Kathy Griffin, on Twitter: “tonight we’re all New Yorkers! Straight & gay alike, let’s all celebrate marriage (hash)equality. The right side of history!”
John Legend on Twitter: “Happy that New York passed marriage equality tonight. A victory for human rights. Progress.”
Pink on Twitter: “congratulations!!!!!!!!! About time!”
Steve Martin to Alec Baldwin on Twitter: “Alec! Now we can get married!”
Baldwin’s response.: “Ok. But if you play that … banjo after eleven o’clock…”
Darren Criss on Twitter: “I sing it every night, but now it has better meaning: `New York- concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.’ 🙂 As if I didn’t already have enough to celebrate and enjoy today. A big hug for New York from my lone hotel room in London.”
Alyssa Milano on Twitter: “Way to go, New York. One people. One planet. One love.”
Wendy Williams, on Twitter: “Yay for Gay Marriage! NY, it’s about time…jersey we’re next! How you doin?”
New York Sen. Charles Schumer also released a statement Friday night saying “When the famous French historian Alexis de Tocqueville visited New York in the 1830s, he said the one thing that distinguishes America from every other country in the world is its inexorable move toward equality. Tonight we have taken another giant step in that proud tradition.”
But not everyone is in favor of the new law. Representatives from the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Rabbis and other conservative leaders fought the legislation.
“Why stop there? Why not a man and two women, Why not a man and two men?” said Jeff Field, spokesman for the Catholic League of New York.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan also condemned the decision. “The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled,” he said in a statement released Friday night.
Meanwhile, celebrations of the new law are expected to continue this weekend with events around the city.
NYC Council Member and longtime gay rights activist Daniel Dromm, had a community party Saturday to celebrate the passage of the same-sex marriage bill.
“Today we are here because New York state has said ‘I do’ to equality,” said Dromm.
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Dromm and other LGBT activists gathered in Jackson Heights to cut what was being called a gay wedding cake.
On Sunday, New York City’s annual Gay Pride March will step off at noon. More than 500,000 participants are expected to attend and police commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD is prepared to handle the large crowds.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports: Kelly Says Celebrations Often Continue Through Monday
“It is a big celebration weekend, we understand that,” said Kelly. “We see it year after year. We have additional resources that will be deployed in the southern part of Manhattan where the parade terminates.”
The Gay Pride March will wind its way downtown from 36th Street and 5th Avenue to Christopher and Greenwich streets.
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