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Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, Neil Patrick Harris thrilled gay New Yorkers can start marrying on July 24

ALBANY, N.Y. – Just moments before midnight on Friday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage in New York.

The law will go into effect 30 days thereafter, meaning that New York’s gay and lesbian couples can start planning weddings as soon as July 24.

The Republican-controlled Senate waited until the final hours of the 2011 legislative session to approve the bill, voting 33-29 earlier Friday evening after the Assembly had already passed the measure.

New York’s large LGBT community celebrated into the wee hours of the morning, particularly in New York City, where almost 42 years earlier on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Riots helped to launch the gay civil rights movement. And the historic vote kick-started Pride weekend in New York City.

"This vote today will send a message across the country. This is the way to go, the time to do it is now, and it is achievable; it's no longer a dream or an aspiration. I think you're going to see a rapid evolution," Cuomo said late Friday at news conference. "We reached a new level of social justice."

Celebrities who had helped to champion the bill quickly tweeted their followers.

Lady Gaga told her 11 million-strong Twitter monsters: “I can’t stop crying. We did it kids.”

She followed that up with: “The revolution is ours to fight for love, justice+equality. Rejoice NY, and propose. We did it!!!”

Ricky Martin, who has publicly stated that he would eventually love to marry his boyfriend, tweeted: “Time to celebrate!!! Marriage Equality for NYers! Its about … love!”

He followed that up with: “not more, not less. Just #EQUALITY” and provided a link to a photo of the landmark Empire State Building bathed in rainbow colors.

Neil Patrick Harris, whose domestic partner is David Burka, tweeted “It PASSED! Marriage equality in NY!! Yes!! Progress!! Thank you everyone who worked so hard on this!! A historic night!”

About 13 hours later, Harris tweeted: “David and I did propose to each other, but over five years ago! We’re been wearing engagement rings for ages, waiting for an available date.”

Harris and Burka are the proud poppas of twins.

Who the law will impact

The Williams Institute, which tracks census information on LGBT people, issued some key statistics this weekend to illustrate the impact of the bill’s passage:

• There are an estimated 42,600 same-sex couples in New York (Source: 2009 American Community Survey), of whom 21% (nearly 9,000) are already legally married (Source: Williams Institute/Harris Interactive Same-sex Couple Survey, 2010)

• Approximately 7,200 same-sex couples in New York are raising about 14,000 children (Source: 2008/2009 American Community Survey)

• The percentage of the U.S. population living in a state that allows same-sex couples to marry has more than doubled, from 5.1% to 11.4%. (Source: Census 2010)

• Similarly, the percentage of same-sex couples living in states that allow them to marry has doubled from 6.9% to 14.3% (Source: 2009 American Community Survey)

• An estimated 38% of same-sex couples living in states that allow them to marry are currently married, compared to 12% in states that do not allow same-sex couples to marry (Source: Williams Institute/Harris Interactive Same-sex Couple Survey, 2010)

To read more information on same-sex couples in New York, from the 2000 Census, click HERE.

More public reaction to the vote from Californians

“For the past few weeks, as we have watched the events unfold in Albany, millions of us from around the country became temporary New Yorkers as we called, facebooked, and tweeted members of the legislature. While the victory achieved today will directly benefit New Yorkers in the short-term, we collectively recognize that legislating marriage equality within state borders is only the first step when we are attempting to correct a larger injustice,” said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and an outspoken ally of the LGBT community.

“I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for pursuing a course to this vote with dogged determination. His courage of conviction should serve as an example of what we can accomplish when we refuse to accept anything less than full equality. And I congratulate members of the New York State legislature, especially those who based their vote on their conscience rather than on party platform,” Newsom said.

“The fight for marriage equality has been an ongoing battle, but one I believe we should never stop fighting. On this historic day, we honor all the same-sex families in New York who now have an opportunity to participate in something many of us take for granted: to have their commitment and love recognized by the state they live in,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, this fight isn't just about the actual rights that come with marriage, this fight is about achieving the dignity that comes with being legitimately recognized as full and complete citizens,” Newsom said. “I am proud to be witnessing this significant moment in history and I look forward to the day when this vote is modeled across the country.”

Vicky Kerley, president of Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego, was ecstatic.

“We are very thankful for Republican Senators Jim Alesi, Roy McDonald, Stephen Saland, and Mark Grisanti for voting on this historic bill, and we’d like to thank Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for bringing this important legislation forward for a vote,” Kerley said.

“The State of New York has proved that marriage equality can only happen as a bi-partisan effort for the LGBT community. We also applaud the efforts of Log Cabin Republicans-New York and all of the organizations that lobbied hard for this victory.”

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.