Moments ago, in an incredibly close vote, the New York State Senate joined the New York State Assembly in voting to make marriage equality the law of the land in the Empire State. The roll call was thirty-three to twenty-nine.
The final approval of the Marriage Equality Act of 2011 concludes an intense effort by pro-equality activists to convince a handful of undecided Republican lawmakers to vote yes on the legislation. The four Republican votes were crucial to passage of the bill, since Republicans narrowly control the Senate, and one member of the Senate Democratic caucus (Rubén Díaz, Sr.) fiercely opposes marriage equality.
The bill now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who worked carefully behind the scenes to ensure that it would receive a vote in the Empire State’s upper chamber. With his signature, New York will become the sixth state where marriage equality is the law of the land, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, where LGBT couples can already wed.
The law is expected to go into effect by midsummer, which means couples can start making plans now for summer weddings.
NPI congratulates our brothers and sisters who call New York their home on this landmark civil rights victory. This is a great moment for not only the people of the Empire State, but for all of the United States of America. Whenever a blow is struck against discrimination and intolerance, it is a great cause for celebration.
Who will be next? Who will follow New York’s lead?
Perhaps it will be us.
In just a few short years, our Legislature has banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, permitted LGBT couples to register as domestic partners, and then expanded their rights under an “everything but marriage” law, which voters upheld in November 2009 to the great dismay of the forces of bigotry. Marriage equality is now our final frontier. And unlike many other states, to get to marriage equality, we don’t have to un-amend our Constitution… because it was never tarnished with an anti-equality provision to begin with.
Until the day when we, too, enjoy marriage equality, the work to win over hearts and minds continues. Many people across this country who previously opposed marriage equality have finally begun to realize that allowing LGBT couples to wed does not threaten any heterosexual couple’s marriage. The change in public opinion that we are witnessing is very welcome and heartening.
POSTSCRIPT: Governor Andrew Cuomo has just signed the legislation. He evidently didn’t want to waste any time following the vote. Thus, the Marriage Equality Act will go into effect one month from today.