On Friday the New York state senate voted 33 to 29 to pass the legislation that will allow two people of the same sex to obtain a marriage license in the state.
The Marriage Equality Act passed on Friday declares that marriage is a fundamental human right and says same sex couples should have the same access as others to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage.
The new law, effective within 30 day states that existing laws related to marriage will be construed in a gender-neutral manner or in any way necessary to effectuate the intent of this act.
The passage of the marriage law came at the end of the New York state legislature's session, with uncertainty about the bill in doubt until the end.
In a news release from the office of Senate Leader Dean G. Skelos which included comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the primary focus was on a wider agenda which included various matter unrelated to the marriage law, leading with the greatest expansion of rent regulations in 40 years and the first ever cap on property taxes in the state.
Skelos, who allowed the bill to come to the senate floor for a vote although he voted against it, said the state legislature passed measures in the past several weeks tied to job creation, tax relief, regulatory burden reductions, education and clean energy, without mention of the marriage law. He said there was more work to be done to gorw the state's economy and a better future for all New Yorkers.
Gov. Cuomo issued a statement touching generally on historic legislative achievements, although during the last week he met with Senate Republicans to discuss passage of the law, among other matters.
New Yorkers can now look at Albany and see progress on historic initiatives, action on issues that have been left unresolved for decades, and a legislative session that delivered results, Cuomo said. I applaud the leadership of Senator Skelos and Speaker Silver and the members of the Legislature for passing these unprecedented reforms. I also thank the people of New York state for making their voices heard and being the driving force behind these actions.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose legislative chamber passed a version of the law earlier, said on Saturday that passing the law is a historic turning point in the journey of our state and the nation.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation applauded the vote.
At the heart of this vote are loving and committed New Yorkers who simply want the same thing all Americans want: the ability to take care of the people they love and to protect their families, said Herndon Graddick, the senior director of programs at the organization. Gay and lesbian New Yorkers are now one stop closer to the vital legal protections that marriage affords and which all couples need.
He said GLAAD encourages media reporting on this story to ground their coverage in the stories of the New York couples whose love and commitment is at the heart of today's decision.
Catholic Bishops in New York said they were at the decision, saying the government had made a 'tragic presumption' in redefining 'humanity's historic understanding' of the institution.
We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization, the Archbishops said in a joint statement on Friday.
The Archbishops whose names were included in the statement, posted to the website of the archdiocese of New York included Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo, Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg, Matthew H. Clark of Rochester, William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre and Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse.
The bishops also expressed expectations of future efforts to restrict religious groups.
[S]ome will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths, the bishops wrote.
The new law contains provisions meant to protect religious groups.
The new law states that certain corporations and religious corporations are distinctly private and therefore, shall not be required to provide accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
Furthermore, such groups the withholding those services shall not create a civil claim or cause of action, the law states.
The bishops said the state government had expressed a tragic presumption in passing the law and called on society to regain a true understanding of marriage.
Our society must regain what it appears to have lost - a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America's foundational principles, they wrote.