It came down to one late Friday night, the decision of one Hudson Valley senator and one nail-biter of a political drama, but New York is now the 6th state — and the union's largest — to perform same-sex marriages.
The following morning, local reaction around the town of Eastchester was almost unanimously positive, echoed by Bronxville resident Dave Ramsey.
“It’s fantastic,” said Ramsey. “It’s a long time coming and it’s a shame it had to go through such a torturous process. It's somewhat ironic that it was a Republican senator from Poughkeepsie that was the deciding vote, but I think it’s a very positive sign for New York State politics as a whole.”
“I was out last night in New York and I actually didn’t hear about it until I came home,” said Ellie Horowitz, also from Bronxville. “I was really thrilled. I have a lot of friends who will be very happy. I’ll probably be attending a wedding in the near future.”
Gary Porto, 59, and his partner Ruben Santiago, 54, who live together in Yorktown expressed their fervent support for the measure earlier on Friday.
Allowing such unions can, and will, change people's attitudes toward gays and lesbians, Porto said.
"It will show people that the world didn't fall apart," he said. "Love is love."
The bill passed the Assembly as expected, 82-47, and then around 10:30 p.m., the Senate voted in favor 32-29. Shouts of "USA! USA! USA!" erupted after the vote.
Sen. Stephen Saland, a Poughkeepsie Republican, had opposed the measure previously tipped the scale in favor of the measure Friday. Read his statement here.
Porto and Santiago have known each other for nearly three decades and for the last 19 years, the couple has shared a home in Yorktown. Porto said he wants the same things as any "normal" couple.
"Just to have that recognition," he said. "It's so hard to put into words how important this is. It's really throwing us a bone because the federal government still doesn't recognize us. But it least will be one less block for people to use to discriminate against us."
Although they've had the chance to get married in other states, they decided that's not what they wanted.
"I want the place I was born in and raised in to accept me," said the Bronx-born Porto. Santiago was born in Harlem.
New Rochelle resident Judith Pinals said the passage of the bill was about time.
"This was a justice issue," she said.
Her temple, , has an LGBT committee. "Our temple is known to be welcoming and supportive of this issue," Pinals said.
New Rochelle resident and business man Scott Cohen said he was thrilled about the vote.
He was married in Connecticut to his husband.
"This means that people who want to be married in a same-sex relationship can do so in their home state," Cohen said.
He said having gay marriage OK'd in California and then taken away by Prop 8 was scary and he hopes the same thing doesn't happen in New York.
"I'm happy for now," Cohen said. "I don't know if it will be appealed. But I'm enjoying the current feeling."
Applying religious exemptions appeared central to passage. Religious institutions do not have to recognize same-sex marriages under the New York law.
Father Albert Azark from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in White Plains explained his stance on the issue.
"We have no problem with gays," Azark said in advance of the vote. "We have gay couples in our church, but we can’t perform a wedding. It’s not our church, that’s how the tradition is. It’s the man and wife. We don’t reject people who come to church. I have a niece who’s gay, and the family went to some ceremony in Massachusetts.
"People get confused that because we can't perform the ceremony, but we don’t reject people here," he said. "You know we’re all sinners, the only one who judges us is going to be God.”
Pastor Matthew Curry of the United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, in an interview Thursday, stated he personally supports allowing for same-sex marriage on a civil basis, and to allow for religious organizations to have the option to do so. However, he also supports having the discisions to perform marriages be at the discretion of the religious organizations.
The task of reversing the failed 2009 gay marriage vote in New York was significant, especially when polls showed New York voters remained divided over the issue — even within the same snapshot. A NY1/YNN-Marist Poll released last month found 53 percent of adult New Yorkers said marriage should only be between a man and a woman while at the same time 50 percent said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in New York.
"We are all really ecstatic," said David Juhren, executive director of The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center for the Lower Hudson Valley and a Cortlandt Manor resident.
"A lot of people worked very hard in the last fews years since the Senate last voted," he said. "A lot of people worked to change the landscape and to make this night happen. We understand why they are in there (religious provisions.) They need to be there. We believe in a separation of church and state. No church should have to do something they don't want to do."
New Rochelle resident Linda Barat reached her 20-year-old gay son by cell phone at a celebration in front of the Stonewall bar in Manhattan after the vote was finalized.
"He held the phone up" so she could hear the cheers from the crowd.
"This is one of those moments where you can remember where you were when it happened," Barat said.
She was at a Pride Shabbat service at Temple Israel of New Rochelle while the vote was being taken.
"Everyone was cheering and hugging," Barat said.
She said people were checking their smartphones and crying out that the vote had been taken.
"What could be better to be with members of our community," when this happened, Barat said. "All I wanted was to talk to my son."
The issue crossed lines of sexuality, religion and politics to be sure, but also served to connect many, including gay activists of different generations.
James Stewart, the program director for the Westchester Jewish Center Services’ program the Center Lane LGBTQ Youth Community Center, which is based in both White Plains and Yonkers, was speaking to one of the kids about something serious at the Yonkers center Friday night.
Then he heard screaming coming out of the office. The marriage bill had passed.
“There was a lot of yelling and hugging and kissing," he said, struggling to find words. “It’s just hard to believe.”
Contributor Maddy Roth and Patch editors Dina Sciortino, Tom Auchterlonie and Plamena Pesheva contributed to this report.