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Suffolk Legis. Cooper legally marries longtime partner

In a park next to a pond in Old Greenwich, Conn., Suffolk Legis. Jon Cooper Thursday legally married his longtime partner, Robert Cooper. Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor), who with his partner has five children, said the 15-minute ceremony was more emotional than he'd anticipated. "Until it actually happens, if you're a straight couple, you take it for granted," he said. "But for gay couples when this life was denied to us until now, it really means a lot." Same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut in October. Gov. David A. Paterson decreed in May 2008 that New York State agencies will recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. Paterson has also sought to legalize same-sex marriages here. Cooper, 54, said that while he would have liked to have been married in New York, the ceremony was important to formalize the relationship he's had with his partner, Robert, 51, a community volunteer and local theater actor. "It was a public recognition of the private commitment that Rob and I have made for 29 years now," he said. "It's still not full marriage equality because it's not recognized by the federal government, but it was a big step." -- REID J. EPSTEIN

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