New York state approves gay marriage
New York has become the sixth and most populous US state to allow same-sex marriage.The Republican-controlled state senate voted 33-29 for a bill that had earlier been approved by the lower house, which has a Democratic majority.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the bill into law. Gay weddings are expected to start within 30 days.
It has become a contentious social issue ahead of next year's presidential and congressional elections.
"New York has finally torn down the barrier that prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted," Mr Cuomo said in a statement.
He kept his promise to sign the bill as soon as he received it after the Senate vote - rather than wait the usual 10 days.
Gay rights activists said the approval of the bill was a key victory for them, in what is seen as the birthplace of the US gay rights movement.
"It's about time. I want to get married. I want the same rights as anyone else," 36-year-old student Caroline Jaeger told Reuters news agency.
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