Take the joy of one wedding Now magnify that by 60. Now magnify that by the epic aspect of waiting 25, 35, even 53 years for that chance, that right, to walk down an aisle, hold flowers, exchange rings, declare love and vows, toast with champagne and cut a tiered wedding cake.
On Tuesday, July 26, some 50 couples had their dream come true at the Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park – a most fitting venue for a mass wedding ceremony and reception for same-sex couples since New York State became the sixth, and largest state, to adopt Marriage Equality after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the law, June 24.
July 26 marked the first day without a waiver of the 24-hour waiting period, after Town Clerk offices opened for business on Monday. (Only North Hempstead Town Hall in Nassau County, and Brookhaven Town Hall in Suffolk County opened on Sunday to facilitate same sex marriages with a waiver on the first day the law went into effect; see story and slideshow. No Town Clerk facilitated here, either; the marriages were officiated, and the licenses signed by the officiant, Dr Beverly Boyarsky.)
Steve Carl, who runs the catering facility at Carlyle on the Green, acknowledged the appropriateness of hosting the wedding at a state park when he welcomed almost 1000 people – the couples and their guests – in the outdoor garden setting.
“I’ve done lots of weddings but I’ve never seen more joy,” he said. “When Marriage Equality passed June 24, I wanted to have something like this.”
David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of Long Island GLBT Services Network, looked out over the gathering, “The community made this happen, and for us to witness these couples declare their love and be legally married.
“This is first time we are truly equal in the state, and with that, 1,324 rights and benefits that come with marriage. There is still more we need to do. Today is about celebrating, but we will be in contact about overturning DOMA.
“Gay and straight alike will walk out of here with head held high,” he said. “This gives new meaning to pride, such as we have never had before.”
Some 50 couples walked, one by one, under a floral arch, and down the aisle, gradually forming a semi-circle around the podium where Rev. Dr Beverly Boyarsky officated.
“Today we celebrate as a community and publically,” she said, but added that each marriage is distinctly personal. “Marriage is a bold and courageous act… In marriage, we give ourselves freely and generously into the hands of those we love.”
Even with all the couples gathered together, the wedding did not have the look or feel of a “mass”; each couple had their own distinct and personal ceremony. And the couples were a cross-section of society – young and old, ethnic and racial and social backgrounds
At the appropriate time, Dr. Boyarsky had them turn to their partner, and each recited their vows, andexchanged rings.
And then they were pronounced legally married, and the couples embraced, some kissed, but everyone smiled broadly, as if a huge weight had been lifted.
How do you feel? Jim Lawrence, of Coram, was asked about marrying his partner, Art Guilmette. “I’m elated. It’s about time.”
And how long have you been together? “53 years.”
The couples then went inside, signed their marriage licenses. Then, as in every traditional wedding, they walked into the ballroom reception, but with a distinct bounce to their step, some throwing up their arms in recognition of the milestone.
Each couple had their moment to cut a fabulously tiered wedding cake.
And then on to the party.
Carl donated the facility, and other sponsors came up to the plate to make the wedding as perfect as any of the couples would have planned for themselves: Top Tiers by Jason Ellis created the cake; Andrew Scott Events did the floral arrangements; All Star Limousine donated the buses that transported almost 1000 people from the parking lot at the other end of Bethpage State Park; Carl Barrie donated the music and entertainment; and Jo Vonn the photography.
Congratulations to the couples.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
© 2011 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com or email [email protected]