Shortly after the New York State Senate made history Friday night when it approved same-sex marriage legislation by a vote of 33-29, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law at 11:55 p.m.
The new measure grants same-sex couples the freedom to marry under the law, as well as hundreds of rights, benefits, and protections that have been limited to married couples of the opposite sex. "New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted," Governor Cuomo said. "With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers."
Shortly before the highly anticipated vote, the Assembly and Senate both passed amendments that would give greater protection to religious organizations.
Supporters from across Westchester quickly took to Facebook to applaud the bill's passage.
"This is so wonderful for my family!” Robin Cohen wrote on TheDaily Lewisboro’s Facebook page. “Each person has a right to love and marry whomever they want. We are very happy New Yorkers!"
Claudia Glaser agreed.
"Long overdue, and thrilled with the outcome!" Glaser said on The Daily Greenburgh's Facebook page.
MariaColaco wrote on the Daily Mount Kisco's Facebook page. "awesome!!!!!! Marriage Equality for all!" And In Peekskill, Ray Adamick wrote "About time!!"
Mark Koppel of Somers also weighed in on the newly-passed legislation, "I am thrilled that New York has joined 6 other jurisdictions in recognizing Marriage Equality as a Civil Right. This law will benefit Lesbians and Gays who can now obtain the rights and privileges available to heterosexual couples. The Federal law, DOMA, still prevents us from receiving any Federal benefits heterosexual couples get.
Said Koppel,"I am very disappointed in my State Senator Greg Ball who pretended to be seeking religious exemptions so he could vote "yes", but voted "no" even after the exemptions were put into the bill. I don't understand what game he was playing, but he needs to explain his behavior to his constituents."
He went on to add, "I am also disappointed in Archbishop Dolan who actually said the law would lead to men marrying their sisters, a statement of incredible bigotry and ignorance.
I am confident that any opponents will see that this law will bring only good things to New York and will strengthen the institution of marriage."
Republican Greg Ball, whose district includes parts of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, voted against the bill. Republican Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, who was considered a swing vote and was previously undecided, voted for the measure.
Westchester State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/I/WF 35th District) voted in favor of the bill and called it a “historic day for New Yorkers.”
“As the world watched, the legislature took a stand and declared that discrimination is not acceptable in any form to any person or group," she said. "Tomorrow, same-sex couples will wake up knowing that this government recognizes them as equal citizens of New York and can take comfort in the fact that their right to a civil marriage in New York State will be granted."
The newly signed bill will go into effect in 30 days. Five states currently grant same-sex marriage licenses-Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia.