The LGBT community and its allies across the country reacted positively to news of last Friday’s passage of a marriage equality bill in the Republican-controlled New York Senate. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law late Friday night; marriages for same-sex couples will become legal on July 24.

That news was well-received in North Carolina, as well. See responses and thoughts from some Tar Heel LGBT community leaders below…

Roberta Dunn, board member
LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

Hearing that New York finally passed a law extending equality for everyone was a wonderful way to kick off the LGBT Community Center’s first Stonewall Party. Now everyone in New York can enjoy the same basic and most powerful commitment between two people: “marriage.” Not some type of civil union but marriage. Celebrating Stonewall where LGBT rights started and hearing that New York now has extended marriage to us made this weekend extra special.

New York is not North Carolina but hopefully some of our state elected officials can learn something from this. It took a few Republican senators to reach out beyond party lines and vote with their heart and soul by understanding that everyone must be treated equal. We cannot have equality for all and then say but not you or you or you. Now can a few North Carolina state senators get it and understand what equality means? Hopefully this will all end when the U.S. Supreme Court rules on this and everyone in America will have the same rights as everyone else.

Bobby Hilburn, executive director
LGBT Center of Raleigh

When I saw the news I was just filled with energy and excitement and my first thought was, ”look what’s possible.” It was a joyful moment. New York is a big deal. The legalizing of gay marriage is a major move forward for gay rights across the nation.

It also brought to mind the huge divide that still exists here in North Carolina. It is sad and frustrating that our state is looking to pass anti-gay legislation that would move us backward, not forward. However, New York makes me hopeful that we can overcome the challenges that are ahead. Good things are still to come in North Carolina, too!

John Stotler, chair
LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

I was out with some friends Friday night and when the emails and text messages starting streaming in, I was attempting to read some of it to my friends and I could hardly do it without tearing up… of course with tears of joy. I think this is an amazing historical event that will have a significant impact on the future of same-sex marriage in our country.

Richard Thomas, chair,
Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC)

Nothing excites me more than the rights the constitution affords all people and this is one more step toward extending what should already be afforded to the LGBT community. For this vote to come during Pride Month raises awareness of the significance of this vote.

Another step for New York LGBT equality, another example for other states to follow and another example that the federal government should follow suit and do the right thing!

What are your thoughts about the New York marriage equality bill? Will it prove to be a positive catalyst for a national movement toward full civil equality for LGBT people? Tell us what you think the comments below!