June 25, 2011 -- President Obama supports equal rights for gay and lesbian couples and believes New York lawmakers' vote to legalize same-sex marriage is an example of the process working "just as it should," an administration spokesman said today.
"The President has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples," White House spokesman Shin Inouye said. "That's why he has called for repeal of the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' and determined that his Administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the courts.
"The states should determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens," he said. "The process in New York worked just as it should."
The state legalized gay marriage late Friday night, prompting gay marriage street celebrations in the streets of New York City.
In a down-to-the-wire vote, New York's Republican-controlled senate narrowly passed a marriage equality bill by just four votes -- 33 to 29.
It brought applause from the chamber floor and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the bill into law.
"This was really about legislators, quality individuals, who struggled with this issue and at the end of the day, did the right thing," Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the passage of the legislation was "a historic triumph for equality and freedom."
"New York has always been a leader in movements to extend freedom and equality to people who had been denied full membership in the American family," Bloomberg said in a statement. "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."
But opponents remain resolute.
"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," New York's Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in a statement.
New York is now the sixth state to allow gay marriage, along with the District of Columbia.
A recent gallup poll shows a slight majority of Americans, 53 percent, support the issue.
There is still a federal law banning gay marriage and California's Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage in the country's largest state, is still working its way toward the Supreme Court.
But for many in New York, Friday night's vote was a very personal victory.
"This is a civil rights issue -- and this is about equality. And I am beyond words," said New York City teacher Eugene Lovandusky, who was one of hundreds of people celebrating outside Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village.
The law takes effect in 30 days, and there could be a rush for couples to become the first to marry in New York.
ABC News Radio and the Associated Press contributed to this report.