Many of New York's homosexual residents have already begun to make wedding plans after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure legalizing same-sex marriage into law.
"Democracy works when the people speak, and the people spoke in volumes over these past few months and this legislature responded this week to their calls," the Democratic governor said.
The bill, which narrowly passed the state Senate on Friday, makes New York only the third state after Vermont and New Hampshire to legalize gay marriage. The move was a huge win for gay rights community.
"I am going to get married in the next year. I guarantee it," Ali Annunziato, a lesbian, said following Friday's vote.
Key points of contention were provisions for exemptions for religious protections.
Republicans lawmakers insisted on provisions protecting religious groups from lawsuits if they refuse to provide their buildings or services for same-sex ceremonies. That means if a church or clergy declines to accommodate a same-sex wedding, they cannot be penalized.
"We have to remember that even if they have the broadest possible religious exemption, that's only one of the arguments against same-sex marriage," Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said.
"This is a bad idea no matter what kind of religious protections they include," he concluded.
Traditional marriage supporters believe their loss in New York could have a national impact.
Meanwhile, President Obama, who said during his 2008 presidential campaign that he did not support gay marriage, now says his position is evolving.
"I believe that discrimination because of somebody's sexual orientation or gender identity ran counter to who we are as people, and it's a violation of a basic tenant on which this nation was founded," the president stated.
"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country," he said.
But Sprigg said Obama has been "disingenuous all along in saying he opposes same-sex marriage."
"In fact, he has been against every possible measure for preserving the traditional definition of marriage," Sprigg charged.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who fought hard against the measure, said he was disappointed with Friday's vote.
"I think society, culture at its peril if we presume to tamper with what has been settled and given and already taught us and cherished for the history of civilization," he said.
Still, the archbishop said he's grateful for the united front displayed in the faith community.
"I have to say I was grateful for the witness of people of faith, the solidarity we enjoyed with Jewish leaders, with Islamic leaders, with especially our black evangelical churches," he said. "And yes I was particularly grateful for the strong witness and conviction of our Catholic people."
New York's gay marriage law will take effect on July 24.