NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – One year ago, New York became the largest and most influential state to legalize gay marriage, raising supporters’ hopes that it would boost national momentum and pump money into the state with a flurry of weddings from Manhattan to Niagara Falls.
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So far, the law’s effects have been noticeable.
Officials estimate gay marriage has had an economic impact of $259 million on New York City alone during the past year.
“Marriage equality has made our city more open, inclusive and free – and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
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In the past year, more than 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in New York City, accounting for more than 10 percent of all marriage licenses issued, Bloomberg said.
At least 3,424 same-sex marriages occurred outside of the city by mid-July, according to state Department of Health figures.
“The widespread reach marriage equality has had in New York extends beyond the fundamental need to make sure all people are free to marry the person of their choosing,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “Our economy has also reaped the benefits full equality has to offer and the impressive economic impact same-sex marriage has and will continue to have on our city is a boon for New York and for all those who fought so hard to make equality a reality in New York State.”
New York inked its gay marriage law with a nail-biting state Senate vote on the night of June 24, 2011, after weeks of intensive lobbying by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Exactly one month later on July 24, 2011 the law went into effect and New York became the sixth and largest state to allow gay weddings, more than doubling the number of same-sex couples eligible to wed.
The new law was ushered in with a whirlwind of weddings that started in the minutes after midnight from Niagara Falls to New York City.
“Do you know I still have people come up to me and congratulate me on my wedding?” said Carol Anastasio, who was among the first bouquet-waving, teary-eyed newlyweds when New York legalized gay marriage July 24, 2011.
News crews swarmed Anastasio and Mimi Brown outside the city clerk’s office in Manhattan.
“When it’s the two of you suddenly listening to the state sanctioning your relationship, that is a big deal. It is a really big deal,” Brown said one year ago.
Not everyone was in favor of the new law. Representatives from the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox rabbis and other conservative leaders fought the legislation.
After the bill’s passage, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, then Archbishop, said the “we don’t believe that marriage can be changed and radically altered to accommodate a particular lifestyle.”
But proponents say the true impact goes beyond numbers. Quinn, who married her longtime partner Kim Catullo in May, said she’s been struck by the goodwill same-sex marriage has generated around the city, and not just among supporters.
“I go to places where you think based on the sign over the door: This place is conservative, they’re not going to want to see the ring, ask how it was, congratulate me,” she said. “Couldn’t be more wrong.”
No state has enacted a law allowing gay marriage since New York.
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