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Marriage equality in the Empire State

July 6, 2011

Giant rainbow balloon arch under the Empire State Building at this year's truly celebratory NYC Pride March. Photo credit: Inga Sarda-Sorensen

Later this month, same-sex couples eager to tie the knot will finally be able to do so in New York. It will be a truly exciting moment, and one that comes after years of struggle for marriage equality in the Empire State.

On June 24, New York became the sixth and largest state to pass marriage equality — nearly 42 years to the day of the start of the Stonewall rebellion in NYC’s Greenwich Village. The law takes effect 30 days later, on July 24. (New York City’s official tourism site posted a guide for couples looking to marry in the Big Apple. More on that here.)

It marks a momentous occasion, and one whose path was decades long and included the tireless, committed efforts of countless activists and allies; it was capped by courageous lawmakers and a governor who stood up and did the right thing.

The Task Force is proud to have been part of this effort by supporting New Yorkers United for Marriage, which doggedly organized to secure this victory. Task Force staff helped organize the nightly phone banks, attended press conferences and spoke out for the passage of the bill. We thank the thousands of you who made phone calls, sent e-mails, took time out of your busy schedules to make marriage equality a reality in New York.

When the bill passed, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said:

This is a profoundly moving and historic moment for New York. To finally be able to share and celebrate one’s love and commitment both publicly and legally is a lifelong dream for tens of thousands of same-sex couples and their families. This vote affirms our common humanity. It means same-sex couples will no longer have to cross state lines to marry. It means New York lives up to its reputation as a national leader. It honors New York’s unique history as being the place where the modern gay rights movement sprang to life 42 years ago this month at the Stonewall Inn in New York City — a place where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people stood up and fought back for their dignity and rightful place in society. This vote honors the spirit of all those who refused to settle for second-class status.

According to data released June 15 by the Williams Institute, extending marriage to same-sex couples in New York would impact more than 42,000 couples raising 14,000 children in the state. It would also double the percentage of the U.S. population living in states that allow same-sex couples to marry.

Carey thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “his tremendous leadership in making marriage equality a key priority.”

Watch the governor’s moving remarks immediately after the bill’s passage. Cuomo signed the bill shortly after it cleared the Legislature in order to seal the deal.

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