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Gay marriage approved in historic vote; Governor signed bill

By Eileen Buckley

Albany, NY – The New York State Senate has approved gay marriage.

The Same-Sex marriage bill was approvede at 10:30 Friday evening in a 33 to 29 vote. It required 32 votes to pass.

Among the republican lawmakers voting in favor was Mark Grisanti of Buffalo.

Gristani spoke on the Senate floor. He said he changed his vote after conducting research.

"Tonight, I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to legalize same sex marriage in New York State. Since I began my term as Senator I have met with many people on both sides of this issue, read numerous documents and independent studies. Given the high stakes, I felt I owed it to everyone to make a well-informed decision. I have come to believe that all New Yorkers should be entitled to the same 1324 rights that come with a civil marriage. As an attorney I analyzed the legislation and concluded that the amendments provide critical exemptions for religious institutions. Passage of this bill now rather than later ensures that these protections be included. I cannot deny anyone in my district and across New York the same rights I have with my wife," said Grisanti.

Griisanti said even though, as a Catholic, he was raised to believe marriage is between a man and woman, he could not "legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage."

But other republican state senators from Western New York voted against the bill. Republican Senators George Maziarz of Newfane, Michael Ranzenhofer of Amherst and Patrick Galvin cast a no vote.

New York now becomes the sixth state in the nation allowing same sex partners to marry.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is celebrating the vote. Cuomo must now sign the bill. The Governor released the following statement:

"New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted," Governor Cuomo said. "With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers."

"I commend Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Minority Leader John Sampson for their leadership and Senator Tom Duane for his lifetime commitment to fighting for equality for all New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo continued. "I also thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell for ushering this measure through their chamber.

Governor Cuomo quickly signed the newly ushered in bill late Friday night. The Marriage Equality bill was signed int law at 11:55 p.m.

The Empire State Pride Agenda is celebrating passage of marriage equality legislation and issued the following statement:

"Love and fairness wins the day for all New Yorkers and our families. Today is a historic day and a victory for equality and justice - it is the culmination of many years of work by the Pride Agenda and others across the state," said Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. "We are thrilled that finally all loving, committed New Yorkers will be able to make the commitment of marriage here in the Empire State."

The Assembly had already approved the bill.

State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt issued the following statement following passage in the Senate:

"I have served in the State Assembly for 19 years and have never been more proud than I am today. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for finally passing marriage equality, which has been passed by the Assembly on four different occasions.

The passage of the marriage equality bill represents a major advancement in establishing equality and justice for all people in this state. For too many years, our LGBT family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors have been denied a fundamental right all other New Yorkers have enjoyed. When Governor Cuomo signs this bill, all New Yorkers, gay or straight, will be able to marry the person they love and benefit from the legal rights and protections afforded to married couples by the state.

This bill would not have happened were it not for outstanding grassroots leadership both past and present. Buffalonians like the late Bill Eaton, Carol Speser and my late father, Bill Hoyt, were among the pioneers who stood up for our LGBT community several decades ago. Today, there is a new generation of leaders led by Kitty Lambert, Bryan Ball and Tim Moran who have fought tirelessly and passionately to get us where we are today. And special thanks to my good friend Senator Mark Grisanti for his leadership. Finally, the entire state owes our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, a huge debt of gratitude for having a commitment to fairness and the courage not to back down. Were it not for his bold leadership, we would not be celebrating today.

I hope that New York has now blazed a trail for the 44 other states that do not currently allow for same sex marriage. I hope they will now follow the lead of New York State and say yes to fairness, justice and equality for all."