By:Â NY1 News
After a long battle followed by days of protracted deal-making, the New York State Senate voted Friday night to legalize same-sex marriage in the Empire State.
The historic yet divisive measure passed by a narrow margin of 33 votes to 29.
The vote will make New York the sixth state â€“ and the largest one to date â€“ to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
It will become law 30 days after Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill.
In a series of emotional speeches on the Senate floor, lawmakers both for and against the measure spelled out the factors that led to their decision.
“My intellectual and emotional journey has ended here,” said Senator Stephen Saland, one of a handful of undecided Republicans who tipped the balance by voting in favor of the legislation. “I have to define doing the right thing as treating all persons with equality, and that equality includes the definition of marriage, and I fear that to do otherwise would fly in the face of my upbringing. As I said, I understand that it will probably disappoint many. It was a struggle, it was an extraordinary deliberation.”
“I cannot deny a person, a human being, a tax payer, a worker â€¦ the same rights that I have with my wife,” added Republican Mark Grisanti, who was also undecided heading into the vote but ended up voting in the affirmative.
Cuomo made legalization of same-sex unions a priority when he took office at the start of the year, and the movement picked up momentum over the last few months as the governor was able to rally the support of both Democratic and Republican holdouts. The split narrowed to almost even in recent days, and the final “yes” votes fell into place when several Republicans agreed to support the bill after the measure was amended to increase protections for religious and non-profit institutions that do not support same-sex marriage.
A similar same-sex marriage bill was defeated by the New York State Senate in 2009. Prior to Friday’s vote, New York recognized same-sex marriages but did not issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, and today Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and the District of Columbia all allow same-sex unions. Rhode Island and Maryland recognize same-sex marriages, but do not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Twelve states, including New Jersey, offer civil unions that grant many of the same rights and responsibilities as legal marriage in those states.
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