Four Republicans joined all but one of the state's Democrats to pass the bill in Albany 33 to 29 in a late vote on Friday
The crowd outside of the normally somber state senate chambers in Albany erupted in cheers of "USA! USA!" after New York legislators passed a bill in a late session on Friday evening to legalize gay marriage across the state, according to the New York Daily News. With the bill, which passed 33 to 29, New York joins Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and Washington D.C. in recognizing gay marriage in the United States.
"As I have said many times, this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate," GOP majority leader Dean Skelos told the Daily News. And indeed it was. After the Assembly passed the marriage equality bill for the fourth time in as many years last week, a number interested parties mobilized, working either for or against the passage of the bill and trying to bring as many lawmakers into their camp in as few days as possible.
As of last night, it didn't look like the bill was going to pass. Only two Republicans had voiced their intention to vote aye at that time, bringing the total number of supporters to 31 -- just one shy of the 32 required for passage. But a few senators were still undecided, including Stephen Saland whose wife has always been seen as sympathetic to the cause. "While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," Saland told the Associated Press before entering the chamber to voice his support in a speech that brought gay onlookers to tears. "I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality."