Monday, June 27, 2011

New York 6th state to legalize gay marriage

via CBS news

Celebrating late into the night, thousands of gay marriage supporters poured into the streets after New York became the sixth and largest state in the U.S. to legalize gay marriage.

After days of contentious negotiations and last-minute reversals by two Republican state senators, the bill was passed, breathing life into the national gay rights movement that had stalled over a nearly-identical bill here two years ago.

Pending any court challenges, legal gay marriages can begin in New York by late July after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed his bill into law just before midnight Friday.

What does it mean? "It means that all of my friends can finally do the thing that they wanted to do, that I can do," Alison Casillo told CBS Station WCBS. "It means that we're equal."

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports that New York is a state with no residency requirement for marriage - meaning couples can come from anywhere to get married here.

Of course that is a boon to businesses - something that was undoubtedly part of the equation for some lawmakers.

A religious exemption was also built into the bill to assuage some opponents. "Whoever opposes the rights of gays and lesbians to marry - whatever religious institution, whether it's the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jews, anyone else - they are not required to marry any couple they do not want to marry," Elizabeth Cooper of Fordham University Law School told CBS News.

Republican State Senator Stephen Saland was one of the last to support the same-sex marriage bill. A self-proclaimed traditionalist, he said he agonized over the decision: "I have defined doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality, and that equality includes the definition of marriage, and I fear that to do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing."

"It's the wrong thing to do," said Maggie Gallagher, Chairman and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage. "But it's also incredibly politically stupid for the Republican Party to take responsibility for passing the gay marriage bill in New York."

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