gay_flag_lede.jpgA move by the New York state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage Friday night has given locals a new reason to celebrate over the Pride weekend.

The news thrilled many taking part in this weekend’s Pride festivities, according to Heidi Beeler, publicity director for the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.

Beeler said the news was announced at Pride event last night and this morning and drew cheers.

“The audience went crazy,” Beeler said. “We’re really excited about that ruling. It’s exciting that it happened over Pride weekend.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Gavin Newsom applauded the New York state Legislature for legalizing same-sex marriage Friday night and called on California to follow suit.

Lee praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership in pushing for the legislation, which was passed by the Republican-controlled state Senate and Democrat-led Assembly before the governor signed it into law.

“The action in New York [Friday] demonstrates that it is more important now than ever for California to act and make marriage equality a priority,” Lee said in a statement Friday night.

“San Francisco remains deeply committed to the same-sex marriage fight and equality for everyone.”

Newsom, who is now serving as California’s lieutenant governor, also thanked Cuomo for pursuing a state Senate vote on gay marriage and said the issue was about more than just the legal rights that accompany state-sponsored unions. Newsom is best known for attempting to legalize gay marriage in San Francisco.

“This fight is about achieving the dignity that comes with being legitimately recognized as full and complete citizens,” he said in a statement.

“I am proud to be witnessing this significant moment in history, and I look forward to the day when this vote is modeled across the county.”

California’s ban on same-sex marriage, the 2008 voter-approved Proposition 8, was struck down in August by a federal judge who ruled that the statute violated gay couple’s constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Gay marriages are currently on hold, though, while proponents of the ban appeal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision.

The state is home to about 18,000 gay couples who wed during the summer and fall of 2008, after the state Supreme Court ruled gay marriages were valid but before voters enacted Proposition 8.

Video via Patrick Connors

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

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