Moments ago, in a vote of 33 to 29, the New York Senate passed a marriage equality bill, thereby doubling the number of Americans living in a state where gay and lesbian people can marry. The measure will take effect 30 days after Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) — who prioritized marriage equality early in his administration and lobbied heavily on its behalf — signs it.
At stake in the final days of debate were so-called “religious protections,” provisions that permit nonprofits and individuals associated with religious institutions not to recognize same-sex marriages. The Assembly approved the amendments earlier in the evening and they also passed the Senate in a vote of 36 to 26.
Watch the final vote:
Sen. Mark Grisanti (R) provided the most moving speech of the night, arguing that he could not think of any legal reason as to why same-sex couples should be denied the same rights he enjoys with his wife. “For me the issue boils down to this: I’ve done research, and I believe that a person can be wiser today than yesterday,” he said, referring to his previous opposition to marriage, a position he attributed to his Catholic upbringing. Sen. Stephen Saland (R), long considered a swing vote, also supported the measure, along with Republicans Roy McDonald and James Alesi. Every Democrat, with the exception of Sen. Ruben Diaz, voted for the bill.
Tonight’s victory is the result of an unprecedented coalition of LGBT equality groups and allies from businesses and faith communities. Opponents like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Catholic Church passionately resisted marriage, threatening to pour millions of dollars into campaigns against any Republican who supported the bill. In the end, however, reason and equality prevailed.
New York now joins five other states (Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut) and the District of Columbia in offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Watch Sen. Mark Grisanti (R) explain why he supports same-sex marriage: