New York's Gay Community Celebrates - NBC New York

New York's Gay Community Celebrates



    Supporters of marriage equality in New York -- from politicians to people on the streets -- celebrated with unbridled joy at the historic vote that made New York the sixth and largest state in the country to legalize same sex marriage.

    The vote comes at an especially joyous time, as the annual Gay Pride Parade is scheduled to roll through the streets of Manhattan on Sunday.

    On Saturday, supporters of the measure gathered for impromptu celebrations in Greenwich Village and Harlem. At the historic Stonewall Inn, one bartender said he "let out a big scream" when the bill passed.

    Patron and Manhattanite Jeff Kluger said "It was a moment of just joy and relief that it finally happened."

    In Harlem, Carmen Neely, the president of Harlem Pride, said "there are some couples who have been together for years. They're so happy now they can have some legality attached to their commitment."

    Mayor Bloomberg hailed the bill's passage, calling it a "historic triumph for equality and freedom." 

    "By welcoming all people -- no matter where they are from, what faith or philosophy they follow, or whom they love -- New York became the strongest, most dynamic city in the world. And today, we are even stronger than we were yesterday," he said.

    City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is gay, admitted in remarks last night that she wasn't sure the bill would pass. "I really can’t really describe what this feels like, but it is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life, and I just want to thank everyone who has brought us to this."

    At the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, the birthplace of the gay rights movement, thousands of people took to the streets in pure jubilation. 

    "I never thought this day would come," said Mary Russo, who married her partner in Canada. "There is something absolutely extraordinary about validation."

    Jean Rowe told NBC New York that she and her 82-year-old partner "got married 48 years ago and we united two families," but the 79-year-old said she wanted to be legally married before she dies and was waiting for this moment for a decade.

    At the Fire Island Pines, the lesbian and gay community anxiously engaged in "Twitter-watching" before bursting in a raucous celebration.  "It's as exciting as New Years Eve"  said one reveler.

    But not all New Yorkers were celebrating the news. A statement from Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the bishops of New York State read: "The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled."

    Katherine Creag contributed to this report