Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law yesterday a gay marriage bill passed by the General Assembly, the Boston Globe reports.

The bill comes six months after the Connecticut Supreme Court declared gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry.

The law transforms civil unions, which began in 2005, into marriages as of October 1, 2010, unless they are no longer legal. The bill passed 28 to 7 in the Senate and 100 to 44 in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

In a nod to gay marriage foes, a last-minute amendment provides “full conscience protection” to parties that object to gay marriage. Its language includes vendors and members of the service industry, not only religious groups.

"We wanted to make it completely clear that the state of Connecticut fully embraces not only the rights of same-sex couples to marry, but we fully embrace the rights and protections afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Connecticut Constitution to the free exercise of religion," said Sen. Andrew McDonald, a Democrat from Stamford and gay marriage proponent.

Opponents of gay marriage had asked for the extra protections and called its inclusion a small victory.

“It made a bad bill better,” Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, a group that opposes gay marriage, told the AP.

“It's a gesture of respect,” National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher told POLITICO. “Even people who want same-sex marriage see that groups that want marriage to remain between husband and wife have a point.”