New York State Senate passes gay marriage bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The New York State Senate passed historic legislation late Friday night as they legalized same-sex marriage.

New York now becomes the sixth state where gay couples can wed, and the biggest by far, more than doubling the number of people in the nation eligible for same-sex marriage.

It would also mark the first time such a measure passed a state legislature in which at least one of the houses was controlled by Republicans.

The heavily Democratic Assembly already approved one version of the measure, and late Friday passed amendments protecting religious groups that oppose gay marriage from discrimination lawsuits.

Though 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 and its role as the birthplace of the gay-rights movement, which is said to have started with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in 1969.

The effects of the law could be felt well beyond New York: Unlike Massachusetts, which pioneered gay marriage in 2004, New York has no residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license, meaning the state could become a magnet for gay couples across the country who want to have a wedding in Central Park, the Hamptons, the romantic Hudson Valley or that honeymoon hot spot of yore, Niagara Falls.

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