Newsday spoke with several same-sex couples who were married Sunday about what their nuptials meant to them.
"Everything is different," Steven Hammer, 46, said after marrying his partner of 21 years, Joe Lobosco, 63, at the Brookhaven Town Clerk's office.
Just after 10 a.m., the men from Ridge became the first same-sex couple to be married in Suffolk County.
"It feels more exciting than I thought it would feel," Hammer said. "It just validates everything we always believed we had for this long. Now everybody recognizes [we're married], instead of just thinking of us as friends or co-workers."
Although Hammer and Lobosco got married eight years ago in Canada, Hammer is excited about getting a New York certificate. "It's a cool thing to hang on the wall," he said of the marriage certificate.
Chrissy Schlesinger, 26, has been neighbors with Hammer and Lobosco for more than 17 years before she moved to North Carolina. She returned to Long Island to celebrate their wedding with the couple.
"I'm very happy for them. They're like family to me," Schlesinger said. "They have been waiting for this moment for a very long time."
-- Ibrahim Hirsi
Terry Lehn and Linda Beinhauer spent 24 years wishing they could get married, and Sunday the Central Islip couple made no apologies about being first in line for a license at Brookhaven Town Hall.
"We waited so long and we just wanted to do it," Beinhauer said, moments after stepping out of stretch limousine with Lehn and several family members.
Lehn, 49, and Beinhauer, 62, waited outside Town Hall in Farmingville for about an hour before the doors opened at 10 a.m.
Lehn, who works in direct marketing, said the wedding was the culmination of years of lobbying state officials for same-sex marriage rights.
"I just wish it was federal," said Beinhauer, who described herself as a stay-at-home housewife. "We're not done fighting."
The couple's wedding ceremony, on the back steps of Town Hall, was capped by cheering family members tossing seeds and blowing bubbles and was to be followed by a reception at the couple's home.
"I'm very glad they are able to do it finally, legitimately," said Beinhauer's son, Scott, of Mastic.
-- Patrick Whittle
Standing in an area normally reserved for tax inquiries at the North Hempstead's Town Clerk building in Manhasset, Barbara Scarcella, 58, and Carol Adelman, 60, of Flower Hill, said their vows.
They promised love, respect and compassion -- virtues practiced during their 36 years as an unmarried couple.
"Day one is groundbreaking for us," said Scarcella, a consultant and retired Thomson Reuters executive. "I'm overwhelmed with joy."
"We're so proud of our state," said Adelman, a psychotherapist.
A larger reception will be held in November, on the anniversary date they have marked for decades. "We dreamed of this," Scarcella said. "Through our years we would say 'Dreams do come true.' "
But there is still work to do, they said, referring to the federal definition of marriage, which says it is between one man and one woman.
"We want to be a model to the community," Scarcella said and Adelman added, "Be good citizens and charitable and good to family."
-- Emily C. Dooley
Karen Rosenbaum, 51, a school nurse, and Susan Rivera, 50, who runs a mobile dog-grooming business, walked out of the New York City clerk's office in lower Manhattan Sunday afternoon wearing blue "Just Married" sashes and rainbow-colored leis around their necks.
They were one of two Island Park couples who took a 5 a.m. Long Island Rail Road train into Manhattan to be on line at the city clerk's office at 6:30 a.m. With them were Lauren Melo, 47, an MRI technician, and Larami Gonzalez, 44, an accountant.
After their morning ceremony, the four women planned to celebrate with a seaside brunch in Long Beach.
"I feel the same as I always have toward her; but today, this is the happiest thing ever," Rivera said, carrying a bouquet of daisies. The couple, who met through friends, have been together for 18 years.
"I feel complete and I feel like times are really changing for the better," Rosenbaum said. "I feel our love and our commitment are recognized."
-- Emily Ngo
Living on two coasts didn't stop family members of Courtney Scott and Kelly Franke from watching their history-making wedding.
The Ronkonkoma couple, both 25, used Skype -- a software application that allows live video chats -- to send the image of their wedding back to Franke's family in Seattle. Scott's twin sister, Jeanette, captured the moment with a video camera on her phone.
"Now go to church and tell everybody," Franke told family after the ceremony.
The ceremony was held in a meeting room at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville. Family Court Judge Andrew Tarantino presided.
"Look at one another and remember this moment," he said as the service began. "In a few moments you're going to be married as wives."
Courtney Scott said the couple originally planned to get married in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage became legal in 2008, but decided to hold the ceremony locally when New York passed the Marriage Equality Act a month ago.
"It would've been a pain to travel to Connecticut," said Scott.
Added Franke: "It's about time."
-- Patrick Whittle