Right after booking hotel space to celebrate Friday's Supreme Court decision, gay rights activist David Kilmnick had a moment at home -- he screamed.
Similar expressions of joy, perhaps not as startling, echoed across Long Island and New York City in the moments after the nation's top court declared gay marriage a constitutional right. Same-sex couples renewed vows in front of City Hall in Manhattan. Public officials, from the governor to presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, quickly jetted out congratulations, outnumbering critics, including the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.
"It goes down as one of the greatest civil rights victories of our time," said Kilmnick, founder of the Long Island GLBT Services Network.EditorialEditorial: Same-sex marriage is a basic rightVideosVideos: Supreme Court extends same-sex marriage nationwide
Within hours of the news, 200 callers jammed the group's phone, dozens of strangers just wanting to share their joy, he said.
"We won the Super Bowl today," said Kilmnick, who has fought for gay marriage rights for more than 20 years.
Noting that New York State legalized gay marriage in 2011, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed lights on One World Trade Center's 408-foot spire to be lit in rainbow colors Sunday night.
"I am thrilled to see the court join us on the right side of history," he said. "Dividing people into first- and second-class citizens is not only wrong, it runs contrary to who we are as a nation."
At New York City Hall, where four rainbow flags hung from the balcony, Mayor Bill de Blasio presided over marriage ceremonies for three gay couples.
Among them, his former college roommate, Thomas Kirdahy, a Nassau-Suffolk Legal Services advocate, renewed vows with playwright Terrence McNally.
At the ceremony's end, the couple smooched and the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps marching band played Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," then the Kesha/Pitbull song "Timber."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) thanked the five justices he called "heroes" for recognizing gay marriages, while Clinton's Twitter account showed 28,000 people retweeted the campaign's "new favorite map" -- every state colored orange for gay marriages.
But Rockville Centre's Bishop William Murphy called the ruling "wrongly decided": "It is clear that the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen to accept a culture-driven redefinition of marriage."
Kilmnick tells critics, "It's time to let it go. . . . You lost."
Friday night, he was at the Courtyard Marriott in Ronkonkoma. One banquet room hosted his group's 15th annual prom for teenagers, who had expected a Supreme Court victory. The newly booked room next door hosted adults, many of whom never dreamed they'd see victory.
Kilmnick reveled in the dichotomy: "People really want to scream in excitement and be able to hug one another and celebrate."
With Matthew Chayes