New York has passed a marriage equality act which legalises gay marriage in New York State. Under the new law, all the benefits of marital status will apply equally to civil marriages conducted by the state:
“No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being the same sex or a different sex.”
However, religious institutions such as Churches will not be forced to perform ceremonies which violate their principles. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the law into effect on Friday 24th June 2011. On the occasion he said:
“New York has finally torn down the barrier that has 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.
“With the world watching, the Legislature, by a bipartisan vote, has said that all New Yorkers are equal under the law. With this vote, marriage equality will become a reality in our state, delivering long overdue fairness and legal security to thousands of New Yorkers.”
“I commend Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Minority Leader John Sampson for their leadership and Senator Tom Duane for his lifetime commitment to fighting for equality for all New Yorkers. I also thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell for ushering this measure through their chamber.”
The Act was supported by a number of gay rights organisations who coalesced under the banner “New Yorkers United for Marriage” including; Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality New York, and Log Cabin Republicans.