Same-Sex Wedding Bells (and Celebrations) Go Off Across New York State

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Phyllis Siegel, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84; the first same-sex couple married in New York City.
Photo: Daniel Barry/Getty Images

The big day has arrived! At midnight last night, New York became the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex marriage. So many couples (from in and outside the state) were expected to descend on its marriage bureaus and city halls today that Mayor Michael Bloomberg even considered a lottery system to divvy out a limited number of licenses. (Read Daily Intel's plea to straight couples to "change the date" here.) Thankfully the city chose to accept all 823 applications for gay and straight couples alike. Down on Worth Street, where the city's revamped marriage bureau moved to in 2009, the scene all morning has been one of calm and anticipation, based on reporters' tweets collected by the Times' City Room.

As of nine-thirty this morning, the line stretched from Worth Street around the corner on Centre Street ending at Hogan Place, on the other side of the City Clerk's building. A barricade kept onlookers separate and the press had its own riser across from the exit, all the better to photograph each happy couple emerging to cheering crowds. As for protesters they seemed to be a lonely bunch. Sam Dolnick, a Times Metro reporter, identified what he claimed was the sole protester: an Orthodox Jewish lawyer from Queens who after being interviewed by The Daily Show's all-things-bizarre correspondent Samantha Bee was chased off by a "rollerskating woman in sequined bra, bridal veil, and angel wings". (However, an AP reporter does mention there being more protesters across from the municipal building "waving signs, many unprintable".)

As for who was first same-sex couple married in the state, Reuters says it was two fiftysomething grandmothers at Niagara Falls, the Albany Times Union says a couple in Hudson, New York should take the title, and the Times is putting its money on an Albany pair for top honors. Below a rundown of all the "firsts" in the state. Congratulations all!

First in Niagara Falls:: Buffalo natives Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd, together for over a decade, were married by Mayor Paul Dyster at midnight on the dot, in front of their five grown children and several grandchildren and a rainbow-colored Niagara Falls, lit up just for the occasion. "Yes, yes, yes!" Lambert replied when asked if she was making the decision to marry of her own free will. Later, and oh do we love this, the couple danced onstage to Lady Gag's "The Edge of Glory."

First in Albany: At the stroke of midnight, in his private chambers, Mayor Jerry Jennings married chairwoman of the city's Human Rights Commission Barbara Laven and Dale Getto, a local public school principal. (The two arrived in a white stretch Cadillac Escalade, joking, "Don't hold that against us. It's opening weekend at the [Saratoga Springs] track, so they didn't have much.) The first public marriage ceremony took place soon after at 12:16 a.m., between Al Martino and Harold Lohner who were married by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi. Four more couples are expected to be married by Teresi and Jennings today.

First in Hudson: As some 200 friends and family intently watched a clock (taped to a bamboo pole) counting down the minutes and seconds to midnight, Linda Mussman and Claudia Bruce became wife and wife just as soon as Mayor Richard Scalera could blurt out the words, "you are legally married." By 12:03 a.m. the couple, together for 35 years, were already feeding each other cake.

First in New York City: Just two hours ago, AP reporter Chris Hawley tweeted that two lucky ladies were about to enter the city clerk's chapel and become the first same-sex couple married in New York City: Two gray-haired seniors, Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopolev. 1 in wheelchair." Just moments earlier, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (herself openly gay) tweeted a photo of herself with the two brides.

First in Queens: Gregory Levine and Shane Serkiz of Astoria, as tweeted by Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. (Here's a photo of the happy couple, in their "Sunday finest," surrounded by photographers.)

First in Buffalo: Looks like we might have to wait a while longer for that one. Times City Hall reporter Javier Hernandez tweeted minutes ago that the notary in Buffalo appears to be missing.

And to all you other bride-on-brides and groom-on-grooms out there, have a helluva day!

After Long Wait, Same-Sex Couples Marry in New York [NYT]
Two grandmothers in first legal gay marriage in NY [Reuters]
In Albany, Wedding Bells Ring Repeatedly [City Room/NYT]
At last, they say 'We do' [Times Union]
A long wait ends in a rush [Times Union]