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Gay couple, family from Queens head to inauguration

Michael Kandel of Douglaston, Queens, decided in October to attend Barack Obama's inauguration, he said, when his partner's 82-year-old mother decided to vote for the Illinois senator.

"And she only did it because our 8-year-old said, 'But Grandma, McCain doesn't recognize our family.' "

Kandel, 49, a gay sixth-grade English and history teacher at Mineola Middle School, has attended large gay-rights and AIDS-awareness rallies in the capital and wanted his family to share in such a large political event.

"I know the feelings conjured up by being in D.C.," he said. "There's a powerful sense of community when attending a political event. This is one that my partner and I knew we didn't want to miss."

Kandel, his partner Darryl Wong, and their daughter, Chloe, and Kandel's 26-year-old niece are hoping to score last-minute tickets from Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Estates). But they're going with or without tickets and are more than happy to watch the proceedings among the millions of others expected on the National Mall.

"As a public school teacher, and one that feels it's essential to push for social justice, it's like a culminating activity going to the inauguration," Kandel said. "It wouldn't feel that way watching it on TV."

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