The front page of New York’s Daily News

On Friday, New York became the sixth and largest US state to allow same-sex couples to marry after the state senate passed a marriage equality bill.

Following an aggressive campaign by LGBT rights group, the legislation received 33 votes for and 29 votes against and was quickly signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The law comes into force after 30 days.

“We reached a new level of social justice this evening,” Governor Cuomo said to reporters afterwards.

“It’s really about New Yorkers, our brothers and sisters, looking at us and saying, we want equality. We want equality in society, equality in our relationships, equality in our love, equality in our families. We want full recognition, marriage equality, and we did it today.”

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the bill’s passage as “a historic triumph for equality and freedom”.

Thanks to New York’s population of over 19 million people, the passage of the law doubled the amount of people that live in states with same-sex marriage rights in the US.

“History was made today in New York. This victory sends a message that marriage equality across the country will be a reality very soon,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Gays and lesbians across the state celebrated the victory, which came on the eve of the anniversary of the historic Stonewall Rights – the June 28 1969 protests by LGBT people in New York City that heralded the birth of the gay rights movement.

In Manhattan, an hour after the law was passed, the Empire State Building was lit up in rainbow colours; the lights already in place to celebrate the city’s Pride week. Crowds also gathered in celebration in the West Village and outside the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots.

The White House commented: “The president has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples. The states should determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens. The process in New York worked just as it should.”

New York-born celebrities also welcomed the bill’s passage, with Lady Gaga tweeting: “I can’t stop crying. We did it kids.” Singer Cyndi Lauper commented: “I have never been prouder to be a lifelong New Yorker than I am today with the passage of marriage equality.”

The Catholic Church in New York was, not unsurprisingly, less enthusiastic about the bill’s passage.

It affirmed the Vatican’s belief that “marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union… This definition cannot change, though we realise that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed…”

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