As incredible as it may seem, the approval of the same sex marriage, not only in New York but in every state in the country, it is a fairly recent development in American history, especially when compared to the decades that the LGBT rights movement has been active in the United States.
New York State was even the scene of important events in the history of the struggle for LGBT rights, such as the historic Stonewall bar riots in 1969, which were the turning point that initiated a new, much stronger and more solid phase in favor of the creation of legislation to protect the homosexuals’ rights.
All of these efforts bore fruit, and as time went by, more and more important movements appeared and organized in different ways to demand access to marriage rights for the LGBT community from the state authorities.
It was not until June 2011, 42 years after the Stonewall Riots, that the House and Senate finally passed the same sex marriage in New York State, giving members of the LGBT community the opportunity to legally marry their partners.
How was same sex marriage approved in New York?
Before the official approval of same sex marriage in the state of New York, the different movements in favor of LGBT rights achieved important advances in terms of respect and acceptance of sexual diversity in several spaces.
One example was the Sexual Orientation Non-discrimination Act (SONDA), which was passed on January 16, 2003, and made it illegal for anyone in New York State to be the target of discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment, housing, education, credit and public places.
However, this law did not explicitly prohibit acts of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, so many movements continued to demand the same protection for transgender and transsexual people, until 2009 when then-governor David Paterson issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
Later, on July 1st, 2012, almost a year after the approval of same sex marriage in the state of New York, the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), a law created with the objective of guaranteeing a safe space free of discrimination, mockery and harassment for students for all kinds of reasons, including their sexual orientation or sexual identity, went into effect.
A historic day for the LGBT community in NY
Each of these laws, as well as the constant and firm work of the different movements in favor of LGBT rights in the state of New York, allowed the long-awaited day to arrive for a community that for years had been marginalized and subjected to all kinds of abuses and harassment by law enforcement authorities in the state.
Although the New York Senate rejected legislation in favor of gay marriage in December 2009, in June 2011 such legislation was passed by the House and Senate, being signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 24 of the same year.
Finally, after years of struggle and public activism, New York State became the sixth U.S. state to approve same-sex marriage, which went into effect on July 24, 2011, officially authorizing same-sex marriages.
What changes did the approval of same sex marriage in New York bring about?
Prior to the approval of same sex marriage in New York State, homosexual couples, in addition to not being able to reaffirm their love through marriage like everyone else, could not access spousal benefits that heterosexual couples received.
For this reason, after a long wait for the approval of a law that would allow them to materialize their love, homosexual couples obtained rights such as:
- State tax benefits.
- Benefits for state and municipal employees.
- Medical care.
- Property and paternity rights.
- Legal rights.
- Security by state-licensed insurance agencies.
- Joint tax returns.
- Spousal deductions in state income tax.
Among many other benefits that meant an important achievement for the LGBT community in the state of New York, whose members were finally able to marry legally, without laws that criminalized them for their sexual orientation.
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