Three gay couples fill out out marriage apps Monday morning in Riverhead

07/25/2011 11:15 AM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Cynthia Bailey (left) and her partner Kathleen Young fill out an application for a marriage license at Riverhead Town Hall Monday morning. The pair plan to wed in a ceremony at their Baiting Hollow home August 6.

For Kathleen Young and Cynthia Bailey of Manhattan, going to Riverhead Town Hall for their marriage license Monday morning was a no-brainer.

Not only do the couple love the Town of Riverhead, where they own a second home in Baiting Hollow, they wanted to avoid the long lines and attention-grabbers that are sure to abound in New York City this week.

“We don’t want to be part of the circus,” said Ms. Young, a nurse practitioner.

“But it’s a nice circus,” added Ms. Bailey, who works at College Board, a Manhattan-based not-for-profit organization.

Same sex marriage applications became available for the first time at Riverhead Town Hall Monday — 24 hours after the state’s Marriage Equality Act went into effect in New York State.

The two women, former sorority sisters who have been together 14 years, were only the third couple to be granted a license for a same-sex marriage Monday morning.

Their wedding is set for Aug. 6 at their Baiting Hollow home.

The first same-sex couple, Kathleen Kane and Mary Maddock of Middle Island, filed its application just minutes after Town Hall opened at 8:30 a.m. A second couple, also two women, filled out an application about an hour later but declined to be interviewed.

There is a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before a ceremony can be performed.

Applications were available statewide Sunday, July 24, though Riverhead Town Hall is closed on Sundays. Some municipalities opened Sunday to accept applications and were even able to wave the 24-hour waiting period, including in neighboring Brookhaven Town.

Wedding ceremonies are usually only performed at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursdays for scheduling reasons, according to Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm, so the first day she would likely perform a same-sex wedding would be July 28.

Ceremonies are held in the Town Clerk’s office or occasionally in the Town Board meeting room or outside the building. The town’s marriage application form has been amended to make denoting one’s sex optional. There also used to be a separate form for brides and grooms; that form is now universal.

About a dozen same-sex couples have expressed interest in getting married in Riverhead Town Hall since the legislation was passed by the New York State Senate June 24, Ms. Wilhelm said.

Being able to wed is a victory for couples like Ms. Young and Ms. Bailey, who have been together since reconnecting while planning a sorority reunion in 1996. They both graduated from Syracuse University, where they were in Chi Omega together, in 1969. They hadn’t seen each all those years in between.

A mother of two, Ms. Young was married to a man when the two re-connected in 1996, but she soon divorced and started her relationship with Ms. Bailey.

The two were all smiles Monday as they signed for their license in Ms. Wilhelm’s office and talked about the upcoming wedding ceremony, the first for Ms. Bailey.

The couple will be writing their own vows, but Ms. Young said she is keeping her last name.

“It’s too much of a women’s lib thing,” she said.

vchinese@timesreview.com