Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, vowed that in conjunction with the state's Conservative Party, his group would spend more than $1 million to ensure that lawmakers who supported gay marriage would be defeated in the next election.
"All [the vote] means is that Gov. Cuomo was able to strong-arm and push through, because of the weakness of some Republicans, a gay marriage bill," Brown said. "It doesn't go away, and we're going to make sure the people are held accountable."
Although four New England states, Iowa and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage over the last decade, 30 states have approved constitutional amendments to ban it. The California Supreme Court approved gay marriage in 2008, but six months later, after 18,000 couples were married, voters passed Proposition 8 to overturn it. Proposition 8 is being challenged in federal court.
The crucial Senate vote came one day after President Obama spoke at a gay rights fundraiser in New York. He drew applause when he said gay couples deserved "the same legal rights as any other couple," but he stopped short of endorsing the gay marriage legislation.
Daniel O'Donnell, the first openly gay member of the New York State Assembly, first introduced a same-sex marriage bill in 2007. The Assembly approved it three times, but it failed in the Senate each time — even in 2009, when the governor's mansion, the Assembly and Senate were all briefly controlled by Democrats.
But O'Donnell's fourth attempt, backed by Cuomo, finally succeeded.
For many Republican senators, a sticking point was in the language of the original Assembly bill scripted by Cuomo, which exempted religious institutions and private benevolent organizations from having to recognize gay ceremonies.
The Republicans said it did not go far enough to protect faith-based providers of adoption, foster care and marital counseling that receive government funds from being sued by gay couples demanding to use their services.
Cuomo and gay rights advocates argued that the state's Human Rights Law ensured religious groups' freedom. Some influential Senate Republicans, however, met privately with the governor to bolster those protections, and the final bill included their negotiated changes.
Cuomo pushed to see the legislation passed in time for this year's Gay Pride weekend, which includes a parade Sunday down Fifth Avenue in New York.
The theme this year is "Proud and Powerful."
Interactive: Track gay marriage rights in the U.S.
Times staff writer Ricardo Lopez in West Hollywood contributed to this report.