Revelers celebrate in Manhattan's west village following the passing of the same sex marriage bill by a vote of 33 to 29, Friday. (Photo: AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
New York became the sixth and largest state in the country to legalize gay marriage Friday after the state Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill 33-29 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.
The move could invigorate the national gay rights movement that had stalled over a nearly identical bill in New York two years ago.
Legal gay marriages will begin in New York by late July as long as there are no legal challenges to the law.
"That's certainly going to have a ripple effect across the nation," Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, told AP. "It's truly a historic night for love, our families, and democracy won."
"We made a powerful statement," Cuomo said in a speech. "This state is at its finest when it is a beacon of social justice."
At New York City's Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar that spawned the gay rights movement on a June night in 1969, Scott Redstone watched the New York governorn sign the historic same-sex marriage law with his partner of 29 years, and popped the question.
"I said, 'Will you marry me?' And he said, 'Of course!'" Redstone said he and Steven Knittweis walked home to pop open a bottle of champagne.
Lady Gaga was one of many public figures who tweeted their support of the bill's passage, writing: "I can't stop crying. We did it kids." (Related: Celebs Speak Out on Gay Marriage)
Over the last few weeks, there was concern by supporters of the bill that it would not pass. One of the strongest opponents of the same-sex marriage bill, Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, was give just a few moments to speak out against the bill before its passage.
"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?"
Legal challenges of the law and political challenges aimed at the four Republicans who supported gay marriage in the 33-29 vote are expected, writes the AP.
The bill makes New York only the third state, after Vermont and New Hampshire, to legalize marriage through a legislative act and without being forced to do so by a court.
Though he has not come out to say that he fully supports gay marriage, Thursday President Obama praised New York lawmakers who were debating the landmark legislation.
"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country," the president said at a Manhattan fundraiser that was geared specifically to the gay community. The timing of the event was said to be a coincidence.