Celebration in the Streets as Gay Marriage Passes
By Ben Fractenberg, Patrick Hedlund and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN — Cheers erupted in the streets of Manhattan Friday night as the state Senate passed historic gay marriage legislation — making New York the sixth state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
At the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where the gay rights movement started in 1969, crowds filled the streets and followed along on Twitter as the state Senate debated and then voted on the measure.
When the bill passed 33-29, the hundreds that had packed the streets outside the landmark bar at 53 Christopher St. started jumping up and down and yelling.
"I'm overhwelmed," said Mike Kocurek, 26, of Brooklyn. "After all the stalling, you felt in the pit of your stomach as if it wasn't going to happen. It's a relief."
Mel England, 41, said that he was thinking about getting married to his partner, Tony, elsewhere before Friday's historic vote.
"When I thought I'd have to go somewhere else to get married, I got mad. I just want to get married where I live," England said.
The couple had been together 3 1/2 years and been engaged for three.
"We're very pleased," said Rob Vincent, 41, of the West Village, who had gathered with his partner, Brian Socia, to celebrate. "We're very excited. It's a long time coming. It sets a great precedent for the rest of the nation."
Now the couple is thinking about tying the knot.
"Now we can really think about it," said Socia, 46, who has been living with Vincent for seven years.
The passage of the bill, which comes just two days before the city's annual Pride march Sunday, led to cheers of "Now we can get married!"
Jak Pares, 45, and Alexis Perrotta, 37, of the East Village, have been together for six years.
"All week we've been freaking out," said Pares. "It's so historic."
When the measure passed, the couple decided they wanted to get married.
"We just got engaged in front of the Stonewall when it passed," said Perrotta. "We've got to look for rings tomorrow."
In the East Village, the crowd at the bar Nowhere, at East 14th Street between First and Second avenues, erupted in cheers when the DJ announced the vote.
Icaro Drager, 22, of Harlem, wasn't expecting the bill to pass.
"We've been fighting for so long to feel like we're everyone else," he said. "It's a new beginning for us.
"I think people will look back on this day and say I can't believe it wasn't legal. I feel like we're closer to equality."
Said his friend, Christian Barau, 21, of Jersey City: "We are people. I'm so proud of me - and for everyone else. We made history."
And outside Urge, a club on Second Avenue near Second Street in the East Village, Vern Cocroft, 33, of Washington Heights, said: "Marriage is so gay. I've been telling people that for years."
"Now I can get married in New York," he added. "Now I just got to find someone to tie me down."