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It’s hard to believe it’s been over 40 years since New Yorkers started a gay-rights movement at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Last night, June 24, thousands of revelers gathered in Sheridan Square near the Stonewall Inn after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

As men and women celebrated, they spoke about what this historical event really means to them.  The New York Times reported live from the scene:

“Equality is what this means; this is our right as people,” said John Huls, 52, standing in the Stonewall with his partner, Jay Hoff, 50. “It’ll be our same relationship. We’re the same people as when we met, except now it’s proper in the eyes of the state, and I’ll be able to look at people and say, ‘This is my husband.’ ”

Jen Morera and her partner, Rio Morera, who were married in Boston last year and live in Queens, spent hours glued to the television screen in the Stonewall on Friday night. On their fingers were matching diamond wedding rings.

Both women, who are lifelong New Yorkers, said they now wanted to get married in their hometown. Being denied the right to marry in New York was like being “rejected by my own city,” Jen Morera said, adding that her family could not attend her wedding because of the distance.

“We had to choose between having our family present or getting married,” she said. “It’s an obstacle, having to go to another state to get married.”

When the measure passed, the women screamed and embraced.

As crowds cheered Friday night in the street, politicians offered messages of support.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the vote “a historic triumph for equality and freedom.”

The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, the city’s highest-ranking openly gay official, said after passage:  “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.” 

(New York Times)

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NYers celebrate gay marriage in the West Village.

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NYers celebrate gay marriage in the West Village.

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NYers celebrate gay marriage in the West Village.

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NYers celebrate gay marriage in the West Village.

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The Empire State building shined brightly in rainbow lights after the historical event.

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