07/26/12 6:00am
07/26/2012 6:00 AM

Asked why he failed to support marriage equality when the bill failed in the state Senate three years ago, North Fork Senator Ken LaValle told a Times/Review reporter that his decision was a reflection of what his constituents wanted.

“What I have heard from a lot of people is that we are just not ready for it,” the Republican from Port Jefferson said. “It could happen someday in the future, but just not right now.”

The future began a year ago this week, as gay and lesbian couples were finally allowed to marry in New York State. Citing reasons similar to those he gave in 2009, Mr. LaValle voted against last year’s bill, too. Local Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) also voted no on marriage equality.

Now a full year has passed and we ask Mr. LaValle, Mr. Losquadro and anyone else opposed to gay marriage just how their lives have been negatively affected by the 49 same-sex couples who have applied for marriage licenses on the North Fork in these past 12 months.

We suspect their lives haven’t changed much at all.

Here’s what has changed:

At least 98 of their neighbors (many more could have applied for licenses elsewhere) have been able to exercise a right so many of us take for granted. These same-sex couples have finally been given the same basic rights the state affords any of us.

They’ve been able to share in the joys and benefits of marriage. The pains, too.

Equality. Finally.

But there’s still work to be done.

One year later, 30 states still ban all forms of marriage not involving one man and one woman, and just five other states have comprehensive laws providing marriage equality like New York’s.

The Defense of Marriage Act still stands in the way of marriage equality for all Americans, despite many current active attempts to repeal the federal law.

Marriage equality in New York is a bright, shining example of how government can enact change for the good of its people. We hope the rest of America is watching. We hope they’re ready for it.

07/24/12 9:30am
07/24/2012 9:30 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm officiated at the first gay marriage ceremony on the lawn at Town Hall July 28 of Theresa Claudio (left) and Nancy Zaharick of Mastic. Their toy poodle Bandit was the ring boy.

Some same-sex couples in Riverhead Town are celebrating their first wedding anniversaries this week, as today marks a year since  the marriage equality bill went into effect in New York.

One of those couples is Theresa Claudio, 46, and Nancy Zaharick, 53, of Mastic. They were the first same-sex couple to say “I do” Riverhead Town, in a ceremony performed by Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm last July 28.

“Life is still the same,” Ms. Claudio said in a telephone interview this week. “We were thankful we were able to do it and will continue to celebrate our lives together.”

The two women, who were set up by friends more than two decades ago, decided to marry after Ms. Zaharick popped the question while walking along a boardwalk in Carolina Beach, N.C.

Ms. Zaharick believes things haven’t changed much since they tied the knot, but said they feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to make their relationship extra special.

“Everything has been wonderful,” Ms. Zaharick said. “Everybody has been so supportive and happy for us.”

To celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary, the couple plans to see the play “The Best Man” in Manhattan and grab some grub at their favorite place: John’s Pizzeria, an old church in midtown that has been converted into a restaurant.

“We’re pretty low-key,” Ms. Zaharick said.

Ms. Zaharick and Ms. Claudio were married in a simple ceremony on the lawn outside Town Hall.

The one bride wore a white button-down and a pair of black slacks while the other bride wore a black button-down with white pants. Both wore a crown of baby’s breath. They were surrounded by giant heart-shaped balloons and chose calla lilies for the bouquet.

“For us to get married in the view of the public meant the world to us,” Ms. Zaharick said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

Ms. Zaharick and Ms. Claudio are one of 21 same-sex couples who have applied for a marriage license in Riverhead Town over the past year.

Pick up Thursday’s paper to read more about the first year of same-sex marriage on the North Fork.

jennifer@timesreview.com

 

07/27/11 2:19pm
07/27/2011 2:19 PM

Three gay weddings are scheduled for Riverhead Town Hall Thursday, the first day Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm will perform same-sex ceremonies.

A total of eight same-sex couples have filed for a marriage license since they became available in Riverhead Town on Monday — 24 hours after the state’s Marriage Equality Act went into effect in New York State.

The News-Review will be at Town Hall covering those historic ceremonies.

Click to read about one of the first same-sex couples to obtain a license in Riverhead

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 state-mandated 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 Ms. Wilhelm, so tomorrow will be the first day she performs a same-sex wedding.

vchinese@timesreview.com

07/25/11 11:15am
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

07/15/11 9:28am
07/15/2011 9:28 AM

Same-sex couples looking to wed in Riverhead Town can fill out marriage applications starting July 25, though they might have to wait until July 28 to tie the knot if they want to do it at Town Hall.

Applications will technically become available statewide Sunday July 24, the first day the Marriage Equality Act goes into effect, though Riverhead Town Hall is closed on Sundays. Some municipalities have said they will open Sunday July 24 to handle the increase in demand.

Same-sex marriage license applications will be available in Riverhead Town Monday July 25.

After a license is issued, there is a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before a ceremony can be performed. 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 could perform a same-sex wedding would be July 28.

“To me, it’ s business as usual,” Ms. Wilhelm said. “It’s not different than anybody else.”

Though she would consider performing a ceremony earlier in the week if the couple can prove a scheduling hardship, she said.

“I’ll try to work it in my schedule,” she said.

About seven or eight 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, according to Ms. Wilhelm.

vchinese@timesreview.com