Long Island’s first same-sex marriage ceremony outside North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset shortly after midnight Sunday was followed by the first same-sex wedding in Suffolk County history later that morning at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville.
Steven Hammer, 46, and his 63-year-old partner, Joseph LoBosco, said they have been waiting for this day since 1990 after meeting on a TWA flight.
“It feels different. It feels more awesome. It feels better,” said Hammer. “It validates everything we always knew, everything our friends always knew, everything our family knew, everything our co-workers knew. It’s just, this is it. Just be happy.”
The Ridge couple, who have been together for 21 years, said they were pleased to be the first pair to be married. “It is terrible, but I always felt like we were the first couple,” said Hammer.
Chrissy Schesinger, 26, a past neighbor of the couple, said she flew in from North Carolina to attend the nuptials
“I’ve known them forever, they’re family to me,” said Schesinger. “They asked me to be a witness and I was honored.” She added: “I think it’s great that everyone is finally going to get equal rights, it is time.”
It was a scene repeated at North Hempstead Town Hall throughout Sunday as well.
The second couple of the day to marry was the first female couple to tie the knot in Suffolk. Linda Beinhieur, 62 and her 49-year-old partner, Terry Lehn, of Central Islip, said they had been fighting hard to see this day happen.
“We worked hard lobbying for this,” said Lehn who said the pair, who have been together 24 years, will continue to fight until same-sex marriage is legalized under federal law.
“We waited a long time for this,” she said. “We just wanted to do it. I just wish it could have happened when we were in our twenties,” said Beinhieur.
Two judges were on hand to officiate the weddings. Judge Andrew Tarainto and Judge Shirley Werner-Komreich both said they were proud to be working on the historic day.
“I’ve been waiting many years. More so, the last 30 days,” said Tarantino.
About 30 couples had come to apply for marriage license in Brookhaven. In all, a dozen couples requested the judges waive the 24-hour waiting period so they could to get married the same day.
“When the law past I was very excited,” Werner-Komreich said. “I was happy that all people could really have equality and that everybody can marry… The stability of marriage is important to society and I’m glad that gays can have it just like everybody else.”
Maria Grace Tropin, an ordained interfaith clergywoman, said she came to the ceremony to celebrate the event after executing many symbolic same-sex commitment ceremonies before the marriage equality act passed.
“I came out today to support gay marriages because I’ve done commitment ceremonies in the past and I told them when the day comes, not if, I want to be the one to sign the license,” said Tropin.
Among the couples who came to get their license but didn’t request the waiver included Selden couple David Callahan and Frank Zalesky.
“We had a commitment ceremony five years ago,” said Callahan. “We thought about getting a legal marriage out of New York but we always knew that New York was going to come around.”
The lifetime Long Island residents who met eight years ago said they have been waiting their entire relationship to wed.
“It’s about time,” said Zalesky.
“It’s a great day to be a New Yorker,” added Callahan.
Brookhaven Town Clerk Patricia Eddington told the Press last week that she was excited to officiate the weddings. “I can now perform this ceremony for these people who have been waiting and discriminated
against for so many years. Separate is not equal…and I think everybody should be treated equally.”
When state lawmakers legalized same-sex marriage 30 days ago New York became the sixth and most populous state in the nation to do so.