After weeks of heated debate, the New York State Senate passed a bill Friday, June 24 making New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill, which passed in the Republican-led Senate by a vote of 33 to 29, had been approved by the Democrat-controlled Assembly the week prior.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who had called ensuring the legislation’s passage one of his top priorities, immediately signed the bill into law.

The legislation provides same-sex couples with an equal right to marry as well as all of the legal rights that marriage entails. Same-sex couples will officially be able to marry starting July 24, 2011, 30 days after the bill’s passage.

The bill became law due to the votes of four Republican senators, who defected from their party conference’s stance against the bill.

“I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage,” said Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, who became the final “yes” vote.

The only Democratic senator to oppose the bill was Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, a Pentecostal minister and president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization.

“Gay marriage has been imposed on the people of New York,” Diaz said.

After the historic vote, thousands, including Gov. Cuomo, joined New York City’s Gay Pride Parade Sunday, June 26 in celebration of the landmark victory.

Frank Torres, a senior double-majoring in financial economics and political science and director of Binghamton University’s Rainbow Pride Union, said he was excited by the progress the bill represents.

“I think it’s absolutely great,” he said. “It’s something that should have been done a while ago, something that’s a basic human right like anything else.”

Torres said he believes that the bill will create positive role models for young people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

“There’s a generation of LGBT kids who don’t know any married couples, they don’t know who to look up to,” he said. “This bill is going to create more positive and healthy relationships for younger generations to emulate.”

However, the bill’s passing was not praised by everyone. Tara-Marie Lynch, a senior triple-majoring in economics, political science and international policy economy and executive chairman of the BU College Republicans (BUCR), said that though the LGBT community is gaining political momentum, she disagrees with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“Gay marriage is, of course, a widely contentious topic in our country today,” she stated. “While some people strictly pose themselves as either pro- or anti-gay marriage, I believe it is not that simple. In my opinion, for example, marriage is a [sacred] union between a man and a woman. But this is not to say that members of the LGBT community should be cut off from similar freedoms that a married couple enjoys.”

Marissa Beldock, a senior majoring in history and vice chairman of BUCR, echoed Lynch’s sentiment.

“It is unfortunate that couples who are members of the LGBTQ community are not entitled to the same legal rights, such as health, tax and other insurance benefits, as couples who are heterosexual,” she said. “However, that does not mean we should disregard or redefine the very notion of what marriage is just to please a small population of society.”

Torres recognized that some would remain opposed to the idea of same-sex marriage, but remained upbeat.

“Just because a law is enacted doesn’t mean that everyone believes in it,” Torres said. “Although this might not be the perfect solution, it’s definitely creating the change that we need.”