A Look at Some of the Gay Couples Marrying in NY

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Kitty Lambert, right, and Cheryle Rudd are married by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, left, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Sunday, July 24, 2011.

    A look at some of the gay couples marrying in New York.

    Dina Mazzaferro and Robin Leopold of Great Neck, on Long Island, got married in the North Hempstead town clerk's office with their 8-year-old daughter, Sasha, and Robin's mother, Barbara, watching. Barbara wiped away tears during the brief ceremony while Sasha mouthed some of the words along with her parents, who have been together 15 years.

    "We've been waiting for this day," Leopold, an attorney, said after the service. "And now we're waiting for the day it becomes legal on a federal level. It's a wonderful thing that the town has been so embracing of this."

    Mazzaferro said it was an important day for their daughter as well:

    "It's important for us to be able to tell her we did just not have a wedding ceremony years ago, but at least in this state now we are legally married. I think that takes on significance when you're a child to be able to say 'My parents are married.' We're fairly traditional. I know that may sound a little peculiar, but we are. We're conservative and traditional in a lot of respects so this is just another step in that direction, solemnizing that partnership."

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    Linda Beinhauer, 62, and Terry Lehn, 49, came to the Brookhaven Town Hall in Long Island's Farmingville with friends and family in tow in a long stretch white limousine. They planned a backyard family celebration at their Central Islip home later on Sunday.

    The couple has been together 24 years and were one of the first to get married on Sunday morning in Farmingville.

    "I just wish it was federal," Beinhauer said of the state legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. "We're still not done fighting. When it becomes federal, it will really be equal."

    "We waited a long time for this. Of course I'm getting older now. I wish this could have been when I was 20 years old. This is wonderful. It's about time."

    "We waited so long and we just wanted to do it."

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    Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov have been together 23 years. Kopelov, 85, arrived in a wheelchair to the East Chapel at the New York City clerk's office shortly before 9 a.m. She stood for the ceremony with the assistance of a walker. Both women wore beige pants and blue shirts.

    As the couple approached the altar, the 76-year-old Siegel placed her right hand on Kopelov's walker. She wrapped her hand in her partner's as the service began.

    City Clerk Michael McSweeney presided over the wedding.

    "Today, Phyllis and Connie come together to pledge to live the rest of their lives as one," he said. "These are two independent people who are joining together because they can see and they feel how much better their lives will be. They wish to establish a union which is greater than the sums of its parts."

    The clerk pronounced them married and invited them to seal the vows with a kiss.

    Siegel took Kopelov's head in her hands and kissed her on the left cheek, then on the lips.

    A cheer went up in the room.

    "I am breathless," Siegel said afterward. "I almost couldn't breathe. I am happy."

    ___

    Daniel Hernandez and Nevin Cohen were among the first to marry in New York City, exchanging vows in the West Chapel at the city clerk's office. The pair met in 1998 and committed to each other in 2001. Hernandez is a real estate planner; Cohen is an environmental studies professor at the New School. They live in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan.

    In 2004, they sued the state to demand they be wed. They lost the lawsuit in an appeals court in 2006, a ruling that paved the way for the state Legislature to ultimately legalize gay marriage.

    Hernandez, 53, and Cohen, 48, wore matching navy sport jackets with yellow orchids pinned to the lapels.

    When Deputy Clerk Alisa Fuentes got to the line about objecting now or forever holding your peace, the men laughed. Nobody objected.

    "By the authority vested in me by the laws of the state of New York, I now pronounce you ... " Fuentes paused, " ... married."

    The two men kissed as a group of four friends clapped and news photographers' cameras snapped.

    Hernandez teared up as he talked about his family, which has supported their marriage. His family is from California and couldn't attend because of the short notice. The couple is planning a bigger party for this fall.

    ___

    They are mothers and grandmothers, and now they are trailblazers.

    Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, both of Buffalo, made it a point to be among the first same-sex couples to wed in New York state.

    About 150 people gathered at a low-key reception before their ceremony at a park at Niagara Falls where guests ate cupcakes and hors d'oeuvres.

    Lambert acted as a master of ceremonies, standing on a stool and thanking people for attending and for supporting the state's legislation.

    Lambert, an art gallery manager at El Museo, grew up in Arizona and co-founded OUTspoken for Marriage with her partner in 2004 to pursue the right to legally marry. The grassroots group became OUTspoken for Equality in 2008.

    Lambert and Rudd, who works at a pasta factory, have been together 12 years. They met while they were living in Arizona after divorcing. The women, who have five children and 12 grandchildren between them, have had several other commitment ceremonies while hoping their state would someday recognize their union.

    "We're finally getting the same rights as everyone else," Rudd said while planning a ceremony in Niagara Falls at midnight, the moment the law took effect. "Nobody can take that away from us anymore."

    ___

    Barb Laven and Dale Getto said they do at 12:01 sharp in Albany's City Hall with 10 friends and family members watching. Together for 14 years, the couple wore "I (Heart) NY" pins, each with a rainbow flag stuck in the middle of the heart symbol.

    Mayor Jerry Jennings performed the ceremony, following through on a promise he made to the couple three years ago. Laven, 53, said the mayor, a Democrat, was on the "correct side" of the gay marriage debate.

    "Tonight, we redefined our love and commitment to each other in a way that we were never able to do before: Through marriage. Forever," said Laven, who works for the state attorney general's office. "And it feels wonderful."

    Getto, who's also 53, is a school administrator in Albany.