Opponents of gay marriage say their base has been energized by New York's decision to legalize the institution.

New York will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on July 25 after four Republican senators joined all but one Democrat, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, last month in voting in favor of a gay marriage bill heavily lobbied for by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Initial reaction to Cuomo's announcement that he would back a plan to make the Empire State the sixth – and most populous – state to legalize gay marriage ranged from amusement to cautious optimism. After all, a Democrat-led Senate had fallen 8 votes shy of approving a similar measure just 19 months earlier. Now Republicans were in control, and the GOP caucus appeared united in its opposition. Moreover, lawmakers in Rhode Island and Maryland had reversed course on marriage equality after loud protests from opponents. Undaunted, Cuomo, and gay rights groups working in the state, pressed ahead throughout the spring and early summer, dispatching supporters to rallies and releasing an endless stream of videos featuring prominent figures urging New Yorkers to support marriage equality.

The last-minute introduction of Cuomo's long-promised gay marriage bill turned the tide. Within 24 hours the Senate was tied on the measure after two Republicans and three Democrats lined up behind the governor's effort.

Immediately after the bill's passage, opponents began crying foul, saying supporters had bought the four Republican votes that helped pass the bill in the Senate.

The win has already emboldened supporters in other states, including Maine, where backers this week announced they'll take their cause to the voters next year, and Colorado, where civil unions appear headed for a second try in the Legislature.

But opponents are also reaping benefits from the decision as they prepare for the battles that lay ahead in Minnesota and North Carolina, states looking to constitutionally ban gay marriage next year.

According to The New York Times, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, says it expects to raise $20 million this year from religious groups and individual donors. And it has already pledged $2 million to repeal the law in New York.

Senator James S. Alesi, one of the four Republicans who voted for the measure, has already pledged to work against NOM's efforts.

“It's important for a Republican to go to other Republicans and say, 'Remember who we are – we're the party of Lincoln, we call ourselves the big tent, and I'm here to help you pitch the tent,” Alesi told the paper.