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History is a whim for first legal gay couple • Brooklyn Paper

History is a whim for first legal gay couple

Geraldine Whitsett (left) and Barbara Pilgrim — both of Park Slope — have been together for 48 years. They were the first couple in line at the Municipal Building, and were one of the first couples to be legally wed on Sunday.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A Windsor Terrace pair entered the annals of history by becoming the first gay couple to legally wed in Brooklyn — but, to them, getting hitched was never a priority.

In fact, Sunday’s visit to the City Clerk’s office on Joralemon Street was done on a lark, they said.

“We really had no desire to get married,” Bobby Amagna, 65, explained as he fanned Michael Furey, his partner of 18 years. “But since it’s here and the state is approving it, why not do it?”

Furey, 63, agreed, shrugging his shoulders.

“It’s a blasé attitude, but that’s the way we are,” he said.

No, they weren’t exactly bubbling over with joy — especially when you compare them to all of the same-sex couples decked out in tuxedoes and white dresses, giddily waiting their turn to get a marriage license.

Yet Amagna and Furey were one of the first couples found camped out outside the building when the doors opened. The duo, both dressed in white, arrived on Joralemon Street at 5:30 am.

But they weren’t the first on line: Park Slopers Barbara Pilgrim and Geraldine Whitsett were the first two to step into the clerk’s office — realizing a dream 48 years past due.

Pilgrim, 82, met her 76-year-old beloved in 1963 — six years before the Stonewall riots sparked the gay rights movement and just two years after Illinois took the bold step of becoming the first state in the nation to decriminalize homosexual activity between two consenting adults.

The two, also dressed in white, had gotten to the clerk’s office moments before Amagna and Furey did.

“I’ve been proposing to Barbara for years,” Whitsett said. “We thought about getting married in another state, but I would always say, ‘Let’s wait and see what happens here.’ Now it it’s here and I have butterflies in my stomach.”

A paperwork snafu ruined their plans of becoming Brooklyn’s first wedded same-sex couple. As bureaucrats corrected the problem, Amagna and Furey skipped ahead, getting to Supreme Court Justice Ellen Spodek first for a brief ceremony in the nondescript nondenominational chapel.

Amagna and Furey left the office as quietly as they entered, planning to celebrate their nuptials privately at a nice restaurant.

“We may have something with more people in a couple of weeks,” said Amagna. “This whole thing was done on impulse.”

Their story was built on similar impulses: The two met in 1993 when Furey was invited to Amagna’s birthday party.

“My friend invited him and our eyes locked and that was it,” Amagna said, recalling the moment they met.

Furey remembered the day a bit differently, however. He was Amagna’s birthday present, he joked.

“You know how hard it is to get stuffed in a box?” he asked.

The two have been inseparable ever since, sharing a special connection that nothing — not even a marriage license — can change.

“As long as we get along, I’m happy,” Amagna said.