The state of New York became the sixth and largest in the US to allow men and women to marry members of the same sex. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
With 33-29, the Republican-controlled senate voted for a bill earlier approved by the lower house, where the Democrats have the majority.
The bill was then quickly signed into law by the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo, who had promised to sign it as soon as he received it, without waiting the usual 10 days.
Although only four Republicans voted for the bill, it was enough to make New York the first state controlled by Republicans to pass a bill allowing gay marriage, which became a contentious social issue before next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
Gay weddings are expected to begin within 30 days.
In a statement Mr Cuomo said : “New York has finally torn down the barrier that prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted.”
‘The same rights’
The approval of the bill was a key victory, said gay activists, in a place seen as the birthplace of the US gay rights movement.
“It’s about time. I want to get married. I want the same rights as anyone else,” 36-year-old student Caroline Jaeger told Reuters news agency.
But the passage of this bill does not please everybody. The state’s Catholic bishops said they were “deeply disappointed and troubled” by it, according to Reuters.
Gay marriage is also allowed in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.