New York this week celebrates the first anniversary of legal gay marriage in the state.

New York's gay marriage law took effect on July 24, 2011. A record 659 couples married in New York City on that day as New York became the sixth – and most populous – state to legalize gay nuptials. Celebrations began at midnight in several cities with mayors officiating over weddings at the earliest possible moment.

Couples now celebrating their first anniversaries say they married for mostly one reason.

“The prime reason was love. That's the name of the game,” Phyllis Siegel, 77, who along with her partner, Connie Kopelov, 86, were the first to marry under the law in New York City, told the Daily News.

“We're more in love now than we were before,” said Carol Anastasio, 50, who last year married Mimi Brown, her partner of more than 20 years. “It's hard to put into words, but there's this intimate and closer feeling – and we felt pretty intimate to start with.”

Marriage equality in New York “created a ripple effect around the country,” said Lynn Faria of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “Public opinion only goes one way on this issue.”

“People realize the sky is not falling. Nothing bad is happening. What's happening is people who are in loving, committed relationships are being treated equally,” said Glennda Testone, executive director of the LGBT Community Center.