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New York gay marriage law passes: Will other states follow?

With final passage of a bill Friday night, New York becomes the sixth state to permit same-sex marriage. As polls show more Americans approving gay marriage, will other states follow suit?

By Patrick WallContributor / June 25, 2011

Colin Cunliffe, left, and Brewter Mccall, right, of Manhattan, celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher St, Friday, June 24, in New York. The measure passed, 33-29, following weeks of tense delays and debate.

John Minchillo/AP

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New York

New York lawmakers passed a bill Friday night that makes theirs the sixth and most populous state to permit gay marriage. It caps a years-long struggle, perhaps increasing the odds of similar laws around the country as the public becomes more accepting of the idea.

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“I think this vote today will send a message across the country,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), whose negotiations with Senate Republicans proved critical to the bill’s success. “This is the direction to go, and the time to do it is now, and it’s achievable.”

New York joins five other states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont – and the District of Columbia, which permit same-sex marriages. Forty-one other states prohibit gay marriage, through laws or constitutional amendments that restrict the right to wed to heterosexual couples, according to a count by the Human Rights Campaign.

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The bipartisan vote in New York could inspire lawmakers in nearby states – including Maryland, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, where same-sex marriage bills have stalled or been rejected – to reconsider their stance on the issue.

Four Republicans join all but one Democrat

The Republican-controlled New York Senate approved the bill late Friday night, four days after the official end of the legislative session. It passed 33-29, with four Republicans and all but one Democrat in support.

The two Republicans whose last-minute switch in favor of the bill ensured its passage – Senators Mark Grisanti and Stephen Saland – explained their change of mind on the chamber floor.

“Who am I to say that someone does not have the same rights that I have with my wife whom I love?” said Mr. Grisanti, who acknowledged some people would “question [his] integrity” after his reversal.

The lone Democrat to vote against the bill – Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister from the Bronx – said he was “proudly voting no,” while nearly 50,000 viewers watched the proceedings on a live webcast.

When the Senate president announced the final count, spectators in the galleries burst into applause, and some started to chant, “USA, USA.” Just before midnight, Mr. Cuomo signed the bill, which goes into effect in 30 days.

The State Assembly in recent years passed similar measures, which died in the upper chamber – including in 2009, when a Democratic-led Senate rejected a same-sex marriage bill, dealing a stunning setback to the gay rights movement.

Several developments this year helped revive the state’s gay marriage movement.

Top priority for Governor Cuomo

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