06/25/11 – OnNewsNow.com / AP – NEW YORK – Homosexuals and their supporters are celebrating in New York after a handful of Republican state senators surrendered to pressure to legalize gay marriage in that state.
As the Associated Press reported last night, “champagne corks popped, rainbow flags flapped and crowds embraced and danced in the streets of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village as New York became the sixth and largest state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.”
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill shortly before midnight Friday, almost 42 years to the day that the modern-day gay rights movement was born amid violent encounters between police and gay activists at the Stonewall Inn.
Hundreds who gathered inside and outside the landmark bar erupted in celebration after the Republican-led state Senate cast the decisive vote. The final count was 33 to 29.
Amid Friday’s celebration, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and bishops around the state released a statement condemning the passage of the law by the Legislature, saying they were “deeply disappointed and troubled.”
“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,” the statement from the Roman Catholic leader read
Ultimately, homosexual couples will be able to marry because of two previously undecided Republicans from upstate regions far more conservative than the New York City base of the gay rights movement.
Sen. Stephen Saland, 67, voted against a similar bill in 2009, helping kill the measure and dealing a blow to the national gay rights movement. On Friday night, gay marriage supporters wept in the Senate gallery as Saland explained how his strong, traditionally family upbringing led him to embrace legalizing gay marriage.
“While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience,” Saland, of Poughkeepsie, said in a statement to The Associated Press before the vote. “I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality.”
Also voting for the bill was freshman Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who also had been undecided. Grisanti said he could not deny anyone what he called basic rights.
“I apologize to those I offend,” said Grisanti, a Roman Catholic. “But I believe you can be wiser today than yesterday. I believe this state needs to provide equal rights and protections for all its residents,” he said.
The leading opponent to the homosexual marriage law, Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, was given only a few minutes to state his case during the Senate debate.
“God, not Albany settled the issue of marriage a long time ago,” said Diaz, a Bronx minister. “I’m sorry you are trying to take away my right to speak,” he said. “Why are you ashamed of what I have to say?”