Marriage Equality Bill Passes 33-29

June 25, 2011 Updated Jun 25, 2011 at 10:45 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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June 25, 2011 Updated Jun 25, 2011 at 10:45 PM EDT

ALBANY, NY ( WKBW ) After weeks of anticipation, the New York State Senate voted for Marriage Equality by a vote of 33-29 late Friday night.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been actively campaigning for the passage of this legislation that will legalize marriage between gay couples.

Reaction has been pouring into the Eyewitness Newsroom from political leaders and various groups.

The vote of NYS Senator Mark Grisanti (R) 60th District from Buffalo was considered key to passage. He released the following statement Friday night:

Tonight, I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to legalize same sex marriage in New York State. Since I began my term as Senator I have met with many people on both sides of this issue, read numerous documents and independent studies. Given the high stakes, I felt I owed it to everyone to make a well-informed decision. I have come to believe that all New Yorkers should be entitled to the same 1324 rights that come with a civil marriage. As an attorney I analyzed the legislation and concluded that the amendments provide critical exemptions for religious institutions. Passage of this bill now rather than later ensures that these protections be included. I cannot deny anyone in my district and across New York the same rights I have with my wife."

Statement by Assemblymember Sam Hoyt on Marriage Equality:

ALBANY, NY ( release) I have served in the State Assembly for 19 years and have never been more proud than I am today. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for finally passing marriage equality, which has been passed by the Assembly on four different occasions.

The passage of the marriage equality bill represents a major advancement in establishing equality and justice for all people in this state. For too many years, our LGBT family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors have been denied a fundamental right all other New Yorkers have enjoyed. When Governor Cuomo signs this bill, all New Yorkers, gay or straight, will be able to marry the person they love and benefit from the legalrights and protections afforded to married couples by the state.

This bill would not have happened were it not for outstanding grassroots leadership both past and present. Buffalonians like the late Bill Eaton, Carol Speser and my late father, Bill Hoyt, were among the pioneers who stood up for our LGBT community several decades ago. Today, there is a new generation of leaders led by Kitty Lambert, Bryan Ball and Tim Moran who have fought tirelessly and passionately to get us where we are today. And special thanks to my good friend Senator Mark Grisanti for his leadership. Finally, the entire state owes our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, a huge debt of gratitude for having a commitment to fairness and the courage not to back down. Were it not for his bold leadership, we would not be celebrating today.

I hope that New York has now blazed a trail for the 44 other states that do not currently allow for same sex marriage. I hope they will now follow the lead of New York State and say yes to fairness, justice and equality for all.

However the Conservative Party was not happy with this decision Friday night. Here is their response to the passage of the Marriage Equality Bill:

Passage of Same Sex Marriage is a Disaster for the Future

Today is a disheartening day for New Yorkers. Some will celebrate the fact that the long-standing definition of marriage has been changed, but New Yorkers will soon realize that the inevitable decline of the family will not be celebrated. Traditional marriage has served humanity for eons, has celebrated the joy of procreation and offered a Mother and Father the means to provide for their children. The stability of the family has helped every aspect of society. Government has a genuine role to keep society safe; it does not have a justifiable role to undermine what has been the foundation of society.

In 1970, some New Yorkers celebrated the passage of a right to abortion in the first trimester in New York State, now, forty- one years later, we cannot pass a law in New York State that would end the barbaric procedure known as partial birth abortion.

We question how marriage will be defined in the future. Moreover, we question what will be the effect on society. Passage of this legislation, in our view, will cause irreversible damage to our economy, educational system and the family.

Meantime, "Pride Agenda" celebrated the passage of the legislation:

Albany, NY, June 24, 2011— ( release) The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York State’s largest and oldest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization today celebrated the passage of marriage equality legislation.

“Love and fairness wins the day for all New Yorkers and our families. Today is a historic day and a victory for equality and justice – it is the culmination of many years of work by the Pride Agenda and others across the state,” said Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “We are thrilled that finally all loving, committed New Yorkers will be able to make the commitment of marriage here in the Empire State.”

The bill was introduced as a program bill by Governor Cuomo and passed in both the Senate and the Assembly by a bi-partisan majority.

The New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms weighed in with their opinion that the Senate failed to defend authentic marriage.

Albany, NY -( release) After a long and hard-fought battle, the New York State Senate has voted to approve same-sex "marriage".

Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), said, "Despite today's vote, the people of New York recognize that marriage provides a strong foundation for a thriving society. State senators who have chosen to pursue their own agenda or the agenda of liberal activist groups are ignoring the 62 percent of Americans who believe marriage is one man, one woman, nothing else."

Throughout history, diverse cultures and faiths have recognized marriage between one man and one woman as the best way to promote healthy families and strong societies. That's because marriage between a man and a woman naturally builds families - mom, dad, and children - and gives hope that the next generations will carry that on into the future.

"State legislators should not decide this society-shaping issue. Because this decision has such far-reaching and long-term societal implications, all New Yorkers should have the opportunity to vote in a people's vote," McGuire continued.