Empire State Pride Event Celebrates Gay-Marriage Law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was applauded at the gay-rights gala

By Sara Dover
|  Friday, Oct 28, 2011  |  Updated 10:54 AM EDT
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One year ago at the Empire State Pride Agenda annual fall dinner, then-gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo vowed to legalize gay marriage in New York state.

On Thursday night, the governor was applauded for a campaign promise kept, declaring New York an example for other states to follow.

The legalization of same-sex marriage this past June is a “universal victory” that would spread across the country, Cuomo said, addressing a crowded hall of 1,200 in an event the leading gay rights lobby called "the most successful 'Pride' dinner ever" in the non-profit's 20 years.

“This is going to resonate all across the nation. Part of it is the power of New York,” added the governor, who said he was accepting the Douglas H. Jones Leadership award on behalf of New Yorkers and the state government.

“When New York does something, everyone watches …They're looking at New York once again."

Gay marriage opponents are skeptical of the governor's national push. The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said Cuomo's speech "does more to feed his campaign than become a reality."

Beyond same-sex marriage, Cuomo said it was time to get started on the next agenda -- achieving equality for trans-genders, gays and lesbians in housing, labor and other sectors.

The night's two celebrity hosts were actors Alan Cumming and Laura Linney.

"The Big C" star said she wasn't sure how the same-sex marriage law would have passed without Cuomo's push.

"It would have happened eventually, but that fact that it happened now has a great deal to do with how supportive he was," she told NBC New York.

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