New York Legalizes Gay Marriage: Will the Rest of the Country Follow?

New York's legislation brought new hope for the fight for same-sex marriage.

June 26, 2011, 9:37 AM

June 26, 2011— -- New York's passage of its marriage equality act didn't just bring gay marriage to the Empire State, it also brought new hope that the fight for same-sex marriage may be gaining traction at a national level.

"It's very clear that momentum is building on our behalf," said Fred Sainz with the Human Rights Campaign. "Marriage equality is no longer a question of if, it's more accurately a question of when and how

On Friday, New York became the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriage.

The bill passed with bipartisan support with several big Republican donors who supported the cause.

Corporations and labor unions threw their support behind it.

Nationally, there's more encouraging news for gay rights advocates: 53 percent of Americans now say they support gay marriage.

Just 15 years ago, only 27 percent were in favor.

"It is increasing acceptance, it's increasing awareness," said John Avlon with the Daily Beast. "It's part of a larger civic debate and dialogue that we're having."

But opponents remain steadfast in their position.

"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 on Friday.

Gay Marriage Challenges in Other States

Every time gay marriage has been voted on by a state's population, it has lost.

In California and Maine, voter referendums repealed same sex marriage laws.

In 41 states, opponents were able to pass laws explicitly restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

The big issue on the horizon is California's Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage in that state.

It's winding its way to the Supreme Court.

No one knows how the high court would rule, but one thing is clear: Americanss attitudes continue to change.

"The shift has been pretty broad based," said Avlon. "It's a remarkable societal evolution and conversation we're having right now. It's reflective of the civil rights movement that's going on in this country and has been for the past several decades."

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