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N.Y. Gay Marriage Vote Expected To Ripple Nationally

New York City's annual Gay Pride Parade became a rolling victory party Sunday, two days after the state became the second largest in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

People wave flags during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26, 2011 in New York City.
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Above: People wave flags during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26, 2011 in New York City.

One of those celebrating, Lindsey Katt, said she felt "a great sense of joy," although she added with a laugh that "there is a resounding feeling of 'we've won the battle and now need to keep working to win the war.' "

In New York and around the country, activists on both sides are still fighting the war.

Advocate Richard Socarides says what happens in the state has national implications, and will encourage lawmakers elsewhere to support gay marriage.

He says each approval like this one "feeds off of and contributes substantially to the next one."

Yale law professor William Eskridge agrees: "The more interactions Americans have with same-sex couples, the more Americans will accept same-sex marriage."

Opponents counter that they don't expect the trend to sweep the country because there are just a handful of states left without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel says New York is "the last of the low-hanging fruit," and he's hoping this vote will mobilize opponents.

"It's not the end of the marriage debate," he says. "It's not even the beginning of the end of the marriage debate."

Even in New York, opponents are vowing to make good on their warnings that lawmakers who voted for gay marriage would not survive the next election. They're also pushing for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in New York to be put on the ballot.

"This is the type of issue that the voters themselves should decide," says Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. "It shouldn't be decided by legislators who can be bought or sold, and in every state this is put to a direct vote, marriage has won."

Gay marriage cases are under way in the courts, and advocates hope the New York vote will reverberate there.

As one put it, the argument against gay marriage hinges on the idea that it's just not the way things have been done, but with New York and other states accepting it, that argument carries much less weight.

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