Late Friday night, the New York senate passed the Marriage Equality bill 33 to 29, becoming the largest state to do so. It was a historic moment that caught national and international attention. Gay rights activists were jubilant, opponents of the act were deeply troubled, and Twitter exploded with celebrity comments. Here is a roundup of the world's reaction to the news.
Reporters flocked to Sheridan Square near the Stonewall Inn, where the gay-rights movement began more than 40 years ago. Crowds had swelled to nearly 1,000 people, according to the New York Times, and after the the law passed couples embraced and danced in the streets amid the euphoria. The favorite love story of the night was that of Scott Redstone, who watched the law pass with his partner of 29 years, and popped the question. "I said, `Will you marry me?' And he said, `Of course!'" Redstone told the AP that he and Steven Knittweis walked home to pop open a bottle of champagne. Video from Greenwich Village is below.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan:
One major opponent to the gay marriage law was Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the Catholic Church in New York, who fought the legislation "tooth and nail," in the words of Irish Central. In the days leading up to the vote, he appeared on radio shows and elsewhere urging legislators to oppose the law. It's passage last night was a major loss for Dolan and the Catholic Bishops of New York, who said the law alters "radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage." He released the following statement:
"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
Gay Activists Groups:
There was no shortage of moving statements from the groups that had been fighting for and supporting same-sex marriage for years. Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, issued the following statement:
"Winning the freedom to marry in New York truly is a transformative moment for committed couples and for our country, a triumph for love and equality under the law. Now that we’ve made it here, we’ll make it everywhere -- and as Americans’ hearts open and minds continue to change in favor of the freedom to marry, the momentum coming from New York’s giant step forward brings a nationwide end to marriage discrimination closer than ever."
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which has been having a difficult run of things lately after facing intense scrutiny over its endorsement of the AT&T merger, which eventually led to its president Jarrett Barrios' resignation, finally had a major reason to celebrate. Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's senior director of programs, said:
"At the heart of this vote are loving and committed New Yorkers who simply want the same thing all Americans want: the ability to take care of the people they love and to protect their families. Gay and lesbian New Yorkers are now one step closer to the vital legal protections that marriage affords and which all couples need. GLAAD applauds the work of our partners at the Empire State Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality New York, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Log Cabin Republicans and the couples whose personal stories have moved lawmakers to support this historic legislation. GLAAD encourages media reporting on this story to ground their coverage in the stories of the New York couples whose love and commitment is at the heart of today's decision."
The passage of the law is predicted to have a wide impact. Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School, told Reuters that "New Yorkers tend to move about the country quite a lot. High numbers of same-sex couples likely to marry here will increase pressure on other states to treat those couples fairly." And Michael Dorf, a professor at Cornell Law School, said, "It seems inevitable that we'll have same-sex marriage in most of the states within a decade."
Perhaps because of that, reactions poured in from throughout the nation. The AP reports that in San Francisco, people were hearing the news at a march to kick off pride weekend. "What happened tonight in New York is great, is wonderful, so long as we pick up and keep moving beyond this because a lot more needs to get done," said Kate Lubeck, a resident of San Jose. Pete Weiss of Oakland said, "You'd think California would have been first, but maybe this will spread and we'll be next."
Newspapers around the world covered the news, an indication of the import of the decision. The Belfast Telegraph called the vote "a breakthrough victory in the state where the American gay rights movement was born," and wrote that although New York is "a relative latecomer in allowing gay marriage, it is considered an important prize for advocates, given the state's size and New York City's international stature." The U.K. Telegraph reported that "The vote will be the cause of huge celebrations in America at this weekend's annual gay pride festivities in New York." Al-Jazeera noted that, "New York's legislature became the first controlled by Republicans to pass a bill allowing gay marriage." It also pointed out:
Internationally, same-sex marriage is allowed in 10 countries, including Canada, Argentina, Sweden and South Africa. The Netherlands became the first country to allow it in 2001.
Many other countries provide for unions that grant same-sex couples all the legal rights of marriage without allowing the use of the name.
All cable coverage of the vote was not equal. Brian Stelter tweeted: “For the record, per TVEyes: NY same-sex marriage vote was covered for 60+ mins by MSNBC & CNN. It was covered for 2 min by Fox News.”
The New York Times announced the news in a banner two line headline on Saturday:
The New York Daily News gave the event its full cover treatment. But inexplicably, the New York Post didn't give the event the front cover, and only stuck a line about the story at the bottom.