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V-Gay Day! Boro hosts scores of same-sex marriages on Sunday

The Brooklyn Paper

Dozens of gay couples tied the knot in Brooklyn on Sunday — on the very first day they could legally wed in the state — prompting a heartfelt celebration, tears of joy, and, a few protesters who hauled fire-and-brimstone-threatening signs all the way from Kansas.

Exactly 121 couples — old-timers who had waited decades, young women sporting sleeve tattoos with their wedding dresses and dapper men holding flowers — received marriage licenses on Sunday from the city clerk’s office, and 66 wasted no time in taking the plunge, getting married in the Municipal Building or going across the street to Borough Hall, where Borough President Markowitz was hosting a marriage marathon with Champagne, cake, judges and photographs.

“We don’t have kids — so this is our legacy: We get to be part of history,” said Annette Fisher, who has been with her partner for 16 years. “I can’t tell you what this means to us.”

Downtown residents Barbara Tremblay and Stacey Minondo were the first to exchange vows in stately third-floor court chamber inside the People’s House. They wiped each other’s tears and sealed their marriage with a kiss before Markowitz, his wife Jamie and a gaggle of reporters.

Next up, Bay Ridge couple Taz Vallas, 47, and Edwin Ramos, 54, were wed by Rev. Ann Kansfield, a lesbian pastor in Greenpoint — repeating a non-legal ceremony they performed 14 years ago.

“We always told people we were married,” Vallas said. “But today, the paperwork is filed, and nobody can take that away from us.”

The state’s passage of marriage equality prompted hundreds of gay couples to jump at the first opportunity to wed.

The resulting frenzy of marriage license applications led officials to create a lottery, but in the end, the city accommodated virtually all of the gay couples that wanted a marriage license on Sunday, though some couples did not use it immediately.

Geraldine Whitsett and Barbara Pilgrim — both of Park Slope — were so eager to officially tie the knot, despite being together for 48 years, that they were the first two people in line at the Municipal Building on Joralemon Street.

Only a paperwork snafu prevented them from being the first same-sex couple to be wed legally in Brooklyn.

That honor went to Bobby Amagna and Mike Furey, who were just behind Whitsett and Pilgrim in line.

All morning, happy twosomes held up marriage licenses and embraced outside the building as supporters cheered and reporters asked questions and photographers demanded kisses for the cameras.

“How do I feel?” said Rhonda Waldon, who met her partner upstate 16 years ago. “I feel like it’s about bleepin’ time.”

Nearby, a small crowd of protesters waved signs that read, “Fag lover Cuomo” and “God hates fags,” the slogan of the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist group.

“No matter how many people support this, God isn’t going to change His mind,” said Ben Phelps, a member of the church. “God said fag marriage is an abomination.”

Gay rights supporters offered their own, much-larger counter-protest, with one sign reading, “It’s a nice day for a gay wedding!” Most celebrants barely noticed Phelps and his group, which disappeared after about an hour.

Inside Borough Hall, a priest, a rabbi and judges performed wedding ceremonies, and gay marriage supporter Julie Irwin and her husband Steve Landis offered up their 4-year-olds as “volunteer flower girls.”

“We explained to them that yesterday only a boy and a girl could get married,” Irwin said. “We wanted them to understand what equality is.”

Newlywed Joseph Costello, who met his husband online two years ago, was touched by such gestures. “This is the ultimate validation,” he said. “It’s a great day for civil rights.”

Borough President Markowitz — who has long championed gay marriage — agreed.

“In spite of a few misguided people,” he said, gesturing towards Phelps and his group. “We celebrate love here in Brooklyn.”

The marriage ceremonies came exactly one month after the state Senate abandoned years of opposition and cleared the way for gender-neutral marriages. The Senate bill passed with only one Brooklyn lawmaker on the wrong side of history: Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge), who said that his Christian faith prevented him from accepting the notion that a man could sign a marriage contract with another man.

Queens cantor Sandra Goodman, who joined Judge Bernie Graham and federal Judge James Orenstein in conducting weddings at Borough Hall, did not share Golden’s view of the history transpiring at Borough Hall, across the city and all over the state on Sunday.

“We’re changing the world today,” Goodman said.

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Reader Feedback

Manush from Asia says:
Some millions of species in the world are living with human being but there is not a single species of animal will be found who likes gay sex. God has created the human being as the best creature. Sex will be made between opposite sex and it is heavenly in any context of judgement,It is the rule of God and the rule of nature as well. Gay sex and gay marriage is totally violation of a man and woman right . It is the by birth right of both sex,i.e man and women. All the good deeds have been done in the world with the love of opposite sex. Gay marriage is the most hatred and ugliest deed for mankind. God will not forgive us for our dirty deed.
July 25, 2011, 6:47 am
hman from Windsor Terrace says:
Manush, your God wants to know why you think about gay sex so much.
July 25, 2011, 10 am
Katie from Williamsburg says:
Did you know that over 300 living species display homosexual behavior?

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/07/animals-get-fre/
July 25, 2011, 10:14 am
10thousandCouples from Chicago says:
Best wishes to all the couples. We're looking for 10,000 same-sex couples willing to share your stories with the world at 10,000 Couples e-mag. Visit www.10thousandcouples.com and join the INSPIRING GALLERY.
July 25, 2011, 10:52 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
What a great scene at Boro Hall! Congrats to all.
July 25, 2011, 12:36 pm
Richard Grayson from Williamsburg says:
Manush is just one more good reason for people from Asia to move to New York!
July 25, 2011, 12:55 pm
Your choice from BK says:
To each his own but yuck to the picture.
July 25, 2011, 3:54 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I am so tired of hearing homophobes making such statements. Enough with you religious fanaticism already. This is not a theocracy, so your religious institutions have no say in anything. Manush, since you're Asian, how did you feel when Tiger Wood's father, who was black, married a Thai woman? If an interracial couple doesn't seem to make you mad, I don't see why two people of the same gender who marry bother you. I for one do not feel affected by this, so I don't see why you have to go stark raving mad on this. Times changed when I grew up, and they continue to do so even now. These days, religion is nothing more than a figurehead, and has no influence in anything at this point in time. If you are so dedicated to your religion, then do something more productive such as feeding the children and helping the homeless and elderly rather than trying to make a crusade on other's rights. You are starting to act no different from the groups who didn't allow for your rights with this behaviour.
July 25, 2011, 6:17 pm
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
Really gross, why does it have to be shoved in my face!? we people of the free world should have voted for it. Bloomy's way just to make the city money.
July 25, 2011, 8:48 pm
Really Smart Guy from BK Heights says:
Agreed Cynthia, naturally it became part of Bloomy's agenda ever since he's been loosing popularity across the board. @Manush, not all species, male bedbugs often penetrate other male bedbugs with their hypodermic genitalia because it's attracted to the size (the bigger the better) of the bedbug, not its gender.

Anyway, weren't Greeks the ones who made love with each other in a lake, pond, or ocean after battle? People have been gay for a long ass time.
July 25, 2011, 11:31 pm
Lisa from Ft Greene says:
The 2 men in the pic are friends of mine and lovely inside and out. So happy for them that they get to live the life they choose!
July 26, 2011, 7:18 am
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
Anyone who thinks that two young men can marry and stay monogamous and happily married for 40-50 years (especially in urban areas like NYC) is kidding themselves. It's hard enough for heterosexual couples to stay married that long (ergo our 50% divorce rate); gays are far more promiscuous, don't have to worry about pregnancies, or a spouse who feels unable to leave for fear of loosing her main source of support, and are better able to talk their way out of circumstances any wife would find suspicious.

Sit back and watch the divorce rate in states with gay marriages skyrocket!
July 26, 2011, 12:06 pm
Anonymous from Brooklyn says:
Alex and Jeremy (the male couple in your photo) were very kind to these little girls
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/these_little_gi.php, who are mentioned in your article.
July 26, 2011, 12:13 pm
John from Williamsburg says:
It's really sad that some commentors clearly hate gay people, and black people, a white people that marry black people.

There is nothing wrong with public displays of affection. The "why does it have to be shoved in my face" comment is clearly coded speech for why are people you hate depicted in the media.

As for the insulting comment about fidelity, it's a classic one-two punch homophobes have long employed: (1) you cannot get married; (2) you are promiscuous because you don't get married. Gay men are not any more prone to infidelity than straight men are, once you stop trying to destroy their families.
July 26, 2011, 4:46 pm
Still gross from Bk says:
Two men making out is gross. Congrats to them but ewwwwwwwwww.
July 26, 2011, 5:08 pm
Walt from The Heights says:
I long for the days when it was the 'love that dare not speak it's name' instead of the one that won't shut up.
July 26, 2011, 7:37 pm
johnny boy from bay ridge says:
.
Thank you Stefano, I just can't stop laughing.
July 26, 2011, 9:17 pm
Michael from Park Slope says:
If I were gay, these sort of stunts would only serve to embarrass me.
July 27, 2011, 5:42 pm
derick forreel from vegas says:
sadom and gamora,this is what nyc is turning into
sick,filthy,horrible
poor kids that have to see crap like that
whats this world coming to, if all the world were gay how would civilization continue ,ever think of that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
July 27, 2011, 7:46 pm
Sam from Bk says:
Says the guy from Vegas.
July 27, 2011, 10:35 pm
seen it all from downtown says:
i for one have nothing at all against gays,men or women , but that photo should come with a warning and a barf bag ,
July 29, 2011, 11:54 pm
Anonymous from Brooklyn says:
More updates about Jeremy and Alex's marriage:
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/08/gay_marriage_goes_to_church.php

what a positive story.
Aug. 1, 2011, 1:05 pm
Acey from Williamsburg says:
I am so sick and tired of all the HATE IN THE WORLD. And these so-called religious people are nothing but pure evil. I find that they are the most violent of all the HATERS.

And as for that comment by Ben Phelps "that god says Fag marriages are an abomination" I doubt that god would even use the word fag. That is an evil word that comes from evil people. If people took all the engergy that they use to hate and use it to do go instead, this would be a much better world.
Aug. 10, 2011, 2:39 pm
Acey from Williamsburg says:
Sorry folks I meant energy not engergy. STOP THE HATE
Aug. 10, 2011, 2:40 pm

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