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Same Sex Couples Say “I Do” In New York

Brooklyn, NY (WIBX) - The state of New York confirmed hundreds of marriages over the weekend. The ceremonies started immediately after the controversial bill legalizing gay marriage went into effect. Burrough Hall in Brooklyn was one of the many places to catch a glimpse of blissful couples making their way down the steps of the Municipal Building after exchanging vows. City Hall in Manhattan, Piers along the Hudson River and Madison Square Garden were other places couples and crowds gathered to mark the monumental occasion.

One couple exiting the municipal building said, “We got married! We got married, it was amazing and the sheer love around us is just terrific. It really is, I mean look at people cheering on the street, I mean, when do you get this, you know.” Darlene Miranda and Cristina Janquera have been together for 11-years and although they had a commitment ceremony in Peurto Rico five years ago, getting the opportunity to legally tie the knot in their own hometown is about validation, progress and hope.

Speaking to WIBX, the couple said,  ”Validation. I would say more validation honestly. Validation first, but you know we’re also representing a lot of gay people out there who want to have this right, or haven’t had this right before. You know, we’re lucky we’re in New York, we live right here in Brooklyn but a lot of our fellow Americans out there can’t have the same rights so it’s special.”

Another Brooklyn couple, 61-year-old Linda Wilkens and 51-year-old Annette Fisher have been together for 16-years. They say the day was about protecting their legal rights. Fisher said, “Hopefully it will give us some more rights than we have. Although we did have to go out of our way to make sure that we were legally protected in other ways because unfortunately we live in a world where sometimes people can be cruel. And so this will protect us a little bit more. You know, we would not have to worry as much like if you didn’t have a will, someone couldn’t come and say, ‘you can’t do this, or you can’t do that.’ I get hit by a car, she becomes the beneficiary of that, not someone else in the family who doesn’t necessarily have an interest in my well-being.”

When asked about those who don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue of gay marriage, Wilkens says it’s about their rights as Americans. “I’m an American citizen, and I believe that I should have the same rights as the next individual because we’re all equal.”

Despite the legal step to officially validate gay unions in the state, many couples still face struggles within their family and community. Orlando Matthews is in a same-sex relationship with a partner who comes from a strict religious upbringing. His parents still don’t accept their relationship, despite their 5-year union. He said, “It causes stress between us but I know it’s harder on him because he always feels like he’s got to choose and I think that his family really makes him feel that way.” He says despite the turmoil, he still tries to stay positive about being accepted in the future.

We met Andrew Cohen from Long Island standing in front of the Municipal Building cheering for the newly weds making their way out into the crowd. “I am one of the many people in New York who would love to get married someday. I hope to have a partner to get married to someday in New York. This is about having equality in New York and being able to have the same rights for all New Yorkers to find someone to be together with for the rest of their lives and raise a family,” he said. New York now stands as the 6th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages. It follows, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

Meantime, challenges to the new law are starting to take shape. The group, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms are filing papers in the Livingston County Supreme Court today, contending that the process and procedure that led to the legalization of gay-marriages was illegal. Rev. Jason J. McGuire is one of the plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit. He said, “We believe that certainly some senate rules were violated, changed at the last minute, and very likely there could be some statute violations as well that the court will be looking at that aided this legislation passing and violated the open and deliberative process.” He says the aim is to nullify the same-sex marriage legislation. McGuire says if the courts agree with NYCF, “It would require the legislature to vote again. This time, in a deliberative way–not behind closed doors and really not under the cover of night.” NYCF lobbied extensively against the legislation.

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