I was at the right place at the right time. Friday night, June 24, 2011, I was taking my girlfriend to Sushi Samba in the West Village after a long week at work. As I walked past Christopher Park, a crowd was going nuts. There were literally over 1000 people, many with the symbolic rainbow flag (or reincarnations, such as rainbow umbrellas), chanting and cheering over the Governor Cuomo signing the bill into law which allows same sex couples to unite in marriage in the State of New York. Right there on Christopher St., at the center of the crowd’s attention, was the famous Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. It was quite special to be at this historic place at that historic time.

I almost cried as I saw the happiness in everyone’s faces. This was a long time coming to couples that have been together for up to several decades, living as partners, as they had not yet been able to make that most important promise to the love of their lives. It was an emotional time, and almost 42 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots took place at this spot, which on June 28, 1969, sparked the modern gay rights movement. Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a conservative republican who had run for office announcing that he opposed gay marriage, said he had thought about it for months, until finally concluding that his was the wrong position. His 33rd vote clinched the legalization of same-sex marriage for New York. “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife,” he said to his peers.

* All photos taken on June 24, 2011 by Katherine Gómez Ramírez and Christian Eilers using a Canon Rebel T2i DSLR. Find more photos from Kathe by checking out her Flickr.

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