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New York state legislature approves marriage equality for same-sex couples

New York state legislature approves marriage equality for same-sex couples

Update: Gov. Andew Cuomo signs the Marriage Equality Act just hours after Senate’s passage. Story here.

Update: Complete coverage here.

ALBANY, N.Y. — In a historic late night vote — the last vote of the legislative session, after years of failed efforts to align votes in both Assembly and the Senate, and on the eve of New York City pride — the New York state Senate late Friday approved the Marriage Equality Act, granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

New York will become the sixth, and most populous U.S. state to-date, to allow gays and lesbians to wed — the bill passed by a vote 33-29.

Earlier in the evening, the state Assembly approved the amended version of bill, which included religious exemptions attached in the Senate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who championed the bill and listed marriage equality as among his top three legislative priorities for the year, signed the bill into law. Same-sex unions can begin in 30 days.

Following the vote, Cuomo called New York “a beacon of social justice.”

“New York’s a big deal,” said James Esseks,” the director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “And in terms of cultural relevance to the rest of the country, it’s huge.”

Esseks predicted New York would lead a procession of states in approving same-sex marriage, though with most state legislatures finished with or nearing the end of their annual sessions, significant movement is not likely until next year.

The Senate adjourned moments after announcing the bill’s passage.

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Replay: New York state Senate votes on marriage equality (Video)

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