The New York Senate approved a landmark gay marriage bill on Friday night, making the Empire State the largest and most populous state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Four Republican Senators – Stephen Saland, Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald and James Alesi – joined all but one Democrat, Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, in voting in favor of Governor Andrew Cuomo's bill.

While two GOP senators, McDonald and Alesi, had announced last week their support for the measure, Saland and Grisanti remained mum on their decision until they spoke on the Senate floor.

Saland told lawmaker that his parents would be proud of his decision and Grisanti said he couldn't find a valid argument against allowing gay couples to marry.

Earlier in the day, the Assembly, which approved the bill last week, passed a Senate amendment to the bill that broadened its religious protections.

The amendment, which was put up for a vote before the gay marriage bill in the Senate, won passage with a 36-26 vote.

Passage ends years of lobbying for gay rights groups who lost a similar fight in the same chamber two years ago. Upon hearing of the bill's passage, proponents who had lined the Senate hallways for days began chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, predicted the win would have a transformative effect on the nation.

“Now that we've made it here, we'll make it everywhere – and as Americans' hearts open and minds continue to change in favor of the freedom to marry, the momentum coming from New York's giant step forward brings a nationwide end to marriage discrimination closer than ever,” Wolfson said in a statement.”

The measure's sponsor in the Assembly, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, called the win “momentous.”

“I have been with my partner John for over 30 years, and, at long last, the state where we were both born, raised, and have lived our adult lives has agreed that all New Yorkers deserve Marriage Equality in the eyes of the law,” he said.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Cuomo for his signature.