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At long last, same-sex couples allowed to legally marry in NY


wedding Photo Credit: RJ Mickelson

Some of the women wore matching white dresses, while the men slipped on tuxedo jackets and pinned flowers to their lapels.

It wasn’t curious, however, when some of the grooms wore veils, too.

On Sunday, hundreds of couples made history – New York City-style – when gay marriage became the law of the Empire State. A line wrapped around the City Clerk’s Office in lower Manhattan, where 659 marriage licenses were issued and 484 couples tied the knot before volunteer judges.

“Today I choose you, Mimi, to be my wife, my love, my dream and my sweetheart,” Carol Anastasio, 49, said in a ceremony with her longtime love, Mimi Brown, 57. “I promise to be by your side through the good and bad, the happy and sad.”

Similar vows were read at city-sanctioned ceremonies in all five boroughs, where clerk offices stayed open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“All the great stories that came pouring out today in every borough show what all of us who have fought a lifetime for this knew and know, that moving human rights forward makes us a better society,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who attended some of the ceremonies and is openly gay.

“Today is a great day for my family and countless others."

The historic nuptials drew couples from as far away as California and Texas.

Mery Napoles, 47, and Sas Velez, 49, came from North Bergen, N.J., to Manhattan with their four children in tow.

Napoles wore a wedding dress and Velez put on a rainbow-colored tie and vest. Their children carried the bouquets.

“It was such a privilege to get to do this today and have our family here. I’m a city girl, so this means a lot,” said Brooklyn-born Velez.

Outside, clergymen offered to marry those who wanted a religious ceremony. Vendors sold gay marriage buttons and members of Marriage Equality New York passed out flags.

A handful of protesters outside the Clerk’s Office carried Bibles, telling onlookers that God did not recognize the weddings. A throng of gay marriage supporters, however, chased them with shouts of “Love!” and threw glitter at their heads.

Dan Choi, the former army lieutenant who became the poster child for repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” was on hand to serve as the “maid of honor” for Kawane Harris and Jeanette Coleman of midtown.

“This has been a real fierce battle,” said Choi, an Iraq war veteran who was discharged in 2009 after coming out as gay. “I don’t see this in historic terms though, I see this in love terms.”

State Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), who is openly gay, commended the couples who got hitched.

“Finally, New Yorkers can see what it means to be a family. The world didn’t end because this happened,” he said. “This was a long time coming.”

(With pool reports)

* * *

Profiles of Love

It was a match made on MySpace.

Midtown residents Jeanette Coleman and Kawane Harris met in 2009 through the social-networking site and have been inseparable since. The couple, members of the nondenominational Metropolitan Community Church, decided last August to have a church ceremony.

But while they considered themselves married, it still wasn’t legal – until Sunday, when they were among the first in line to wed in Manhattan.

“The judges are the most wonderful people we’ve met,” said Coleman, 41, in a David’s Bridal wedding dress. “They were consoling us when we burst into tears. I was a blubbering idiot.”

“So was I,” added Harris, 35, in a white Porta Bella suit.

They later said their vows outdoors in Foley Square, where Coleman turned to the dozens of spectators and shouted, “We’re married!”

* * *

Getting married Sunday was the legal seal of approval that John and Eufemio Torres wanted.

“Now we’re married, and now my mom can’t say, ‘How’s your friend doing,’ ” said John, 46. “He’s my husband.”

The wedding, however, almost didn’t happen. The newlyweds said a city employee in Brooklyn told them to leave because Eufemio, 43, only had a Mexican passport. Non-citizens can legally marry in the U.S., and after realizing this, city staffers allowed the couple to get back in line and marry.

“We were both crying tears of joy,” said John, a legal secretary, who met Eufemio at a bar four years ago.

To show off their newly minted status, the couple decided to hang a sign on the door of their Williamsburg home: “Just married.”

* * *

Getting married Sunday held an extra meaning for David Lewis, 38, and Adam McKew, 30: It was also their seven-year anniversary.

“We knew we were going to get married, but we didn’t know when. We were waiting for New York,” said Lewis, of Hell’s Kitchen, who met his future husband at a party in San Diego.

The grooms got to the City Clerk’s Office in Manhattan at 7:30 a.m., wearing matching Prince Charlie jackets and plaid kilts – a nod to their Scottish-Irish heritage.

They first got engaged in 2009, but the state Senate’s failure to pass a marriage equality bill derailed their plans. After it passed this year, they were adamant about getting married and put their names in the city’s wedding lottery.

“He told me we won and I couldn’t believe it. It was the right time,” McKew said.

* * *

“Now we’re officially an old married couple,” joked Robert Lassegue, 41, of Westbury.

He had planned to marry his partner, Jose Manuel Reyes, 32, in 2009, if a marriage equality bill had passed then.

On Valentine’s Day of this year, the couple tried to apply for a marriage license in Manhattan, even though the marriage equality bill was still tied up in Albany. As expected, they were denied.

“I see this as a civil rights issue,” he said Sunday, wearing a white shirt and pink tie to match Reyes. “I always wanted to have the same publicly recognized relationship as anyone else.”

But amid the revelry of Sunday, Lassegue, a freelance events planner, was quick to emphasize that the fight isn’t over, and said restrictive federal laws that don’t recognize gay marriages “must be repealed.”


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