Phyllis Siegel 76 and Connie Kopelov, 84 were the first couple to emerge to the crowd of well wishers on that very hot New York City day, signalling the miracle of rights long owed, courageously fought for and finally won. The couple, together 23 years, brought many in the crowd to tears, as Phyllis wheeled her wife down the street to the embrace of a celebrating City, as wife and wife.
Following the Siegel- Kopelov’s were five more couples voicing their experiences at the brief impromptu press conference, and Gay USA’s producer Kristina Lapinski was center front to capture the historic moment reflected in the video clip below.
Daniel Albert Hernandez & Nevin Cohen, thanked the New York State legislators for “giving us our rights.” Douglas Robinson spoke to the crowd as husband Michael Elsasser looked on. “Thank you New York for recognizing equality, we are Americans we are New Yorkers.” Miriam Brown glowed as Carol Anastasio spoke movingly to include those who could never have experienced marriage in the past, “We are lucky that we are able to get married and hope that the other couples that never got to experience marriage in the great beyond are with us.”
The six couples reflected a diverse range of a community that has struggled for so long, for a basic right to equality and happiness – that was in truth always theirs, yet from which they had been barred. This diversity, so apparent to the movement, reflected by Spanish speaking Marcos A. Chaljub & Freddy L. Zambrano.
“Much thanks to New York and all the people for all the support.. we are super happy for this.. moment so historical.. we can be together with our friends and family and all of New York. We are super happy because finally I can call you my husband.” (Freddy) “I love you! thank you the city of New York. This is really a dream come true.” (Marcos)
Michael Roberts & Michael Johnson are a binational couple one- Roberts from the USA and Johnson from England. While they were lucky enough to be married this weekend, federal law is still not applicable to many binational couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Conference concluded with the excited and moving words of NY Speaker Christine Quinn; “the law in the state of New York is about equality. A law that says every family is based on love and is exactly the way God wants it to be.”
As the day settled down – and the new week began, marriages continue at venues all across the State of New York. People will come from around the globe and the USA to claim their right to marry, express their love and honor their commitment; – and the question “Will you marry me?” – is now a reality for same-sex couples in the equal state of New York.
Written by: Melanie Nathan,
GAY USA, Blog
Video and Photography: Kristina Lapinski,
GAY USA, the Movie