The last major hurdle to legalize same-sex marriage in New York was cleared - with a 33-to-29 vote.
The bill has now been sent to the governor's desk for his approval.
Who were the last two voters? One of them seems to be New York Republican Senator Stephen Saland, who shifted his position from undecided to yes in the evening.
My intellectual and emotional journey has ended here today and I have to define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality and that equality includes within the definition of marriage, Saland said on Friday night, reported Reuters.
Senator Saland had voted against a similar bill in 2009, when the bill was eventually defeated in a 38 to 24 vote.
A first-term Buffalo Republican Mark Grisanti joined Saland in declaring his new position Friday night. Grisanti had been against gay marriage, but changed his mind after an intense lobbying campaign, including one from Lady Gaga.
I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage, said Grisanti.
The only senator to speak against the legislation was Bronx Democrat Ruben Diaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister. Diaz blamed senate Republicans, who voted en masse against legalizing gay marriage in 2009, for turning on the issue, Politico reported.
It is unbelievable that the Republican Party, the party that always defended family values ... is allowing a Democratic governor to divide the Republican Party and the Conservative Party, said Diaz. Same-sex marriage has been rejected by the majority of Americans when given the opportunity to vote for it.
This time around, the same-sex marriage bill passed the State Assembly on June 15, and has attracted national attention. Originally submitted by Cuomo, the bill, if passed, would make New York the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriage. Legal equality in marriage status has already been achieved in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia as well as the state of Iowa.
The bill had awaited one more Senate vote to pass, while a handful of senators have been identified as undecided. Undecided senators have cited concerns over protection for religious groups and individuals as the factors that stagnated the negotiations.
Senator Saland was among the three Republicans who were said to be potential yes votes, with the other two being Kemp Hannon and Andrew Lanza.
Until Thursday, the bill received much attention because of its long inaction.
There are still negotiations going on concerning mandate relief, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said late night Thursday. Bills would not be ready until 4 or 5 in the morning. I think for the good health of all the members, we apologize, but we will be adjourning. As of 11 p.m. Thursday, the bill was still not printed for all the major issues discussed in Albany - from a property tax cap, to rent control for apartments in New York City, a tuition hike for SUNY and CUNY campuses, and relief of municipal mandates.
On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has reached an agreement with lawmakers on provisions in a gay marriage bill shielding religious organizations who refuse to recognize gay marriage, overcoming a central obstacle to the bill getting a vote.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Republican Senator George Maziarz both said that the vote would happen later on Friday or in the early hours of Saturday.
Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, and now New York has officially become the sixth - and the largest - state where gay marriage is legalized. The national gay-rights movement has now gained a great momentum from the state where it was born.