New York Passes Marriage Equality Act, Legalizes Gay Marriage

Today, New York lawmakers announced the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, making same-sex marriage (and all its subsequent benefits) legal in the state of New York. The law passed the assembly 82-47 and the state senate 33-29.

The NY State Senate announced via Twitter around 8PM today that the State Assembly had passed the bill (amid cheers, reports Forbes) and that their vote would be forthcoming. {NUMBER} hours later, the Senate ratified the bill 33-29, ending the week’s tension over the possibility of passing the bill and sending it to Governor Andrew Cuomo for final approval. New York becomes the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex marriage.

But it didn’t just happen overnight: We came a long way, baby. In that spirit, let’s take a (brief and by now means entirely comprehensive) look at the history of gay marriage in the Empire State. Before today, same-sex marriage was legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, as well as in Washington, D.C. and – fun fact – among the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon. California granted same-sex marriage licenses from June 16, 2008 up until the passage of Proposition 8th on November 4, 2008.

In 2002, New York made steps towards marriage equality by enacting the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act as well as extending workers’ compensation benefits to all who lost a partner, regardless of sex, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Back in 2006, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that same-sex couples have no constitutional right to marriage. Then, in 2008, then-governor David Paterson required that state agencies recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as well as those performed in Canada. In 2009, the state Senate rejected same-sex marriage legislation in a 38-24 vote.

On June 14th of this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced same-sex legislation in the form of the “Marriage Equality Act,” which, if passed, would permit “all couples to enter into marriage in New York state, thereby removing the current barrier same-sex couples face in recognizing their relationships, protecting their families and obtaining essential benefits.” State Senator Roy McDonald, a Republican representing New York’s 43rd district, made the news by quite fervently and colorfully announcing his support of Cuomo’s proposed Marriage Equality Act.

Cuomo’s bill made sure to allow religious groups to express their opposition to same-sex marriage without fear of punishment.

The news break via MSNBC below:

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