Gay rights groups celebrate same-sex marriage anniversary
Thousands of gay couples across the state will celebrate their first wedding anniversary Tuesday.
For many LGBT partners, the occasion marks more than their first year since exchanging their vows. The one-year anniversary of New York's same sex marriage law taking effect marks the empowerment of their civil rights.
Greg Levine, whose marriage to Shane Serkiz was the first legal same-sex nups in Queens, said the historical importance of his union didn't hit him when he received his marriage license.
"As the months have gone by, we have embraced what it means to be a spouse," the 33-year-old high school math teacher said. "There is a sense of satisfaction."
The city clerk's office could not give figures on how many same sex marriage licenses were issued during the last year.
Brian Silva, the executive director of the nonprofit group Marriage Equality USA, said the numbers aren't as important as the impact legal gay marriage has had on gay rights throughout the nation.
Silva said other states such as Maryland and Washington observed the way Albany passed the same-sex marriage bill and emulated similar legislative strategies to pass their own marriage equality laws.
A year of same-sex marriages in the state has also helped to alleviate negative rhetoric among naysayers.
"The sky didn't fall," Silva said. "All of the things that our opponents said would happen didn't and people continued to live their lives."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who wed her partner in May, said she's seen a change in attitude when it comes to gay marriage. Quinn said she received tremendous support from groups all over the city during her preparation for her nuptials.
"Passing a law that allows people who want to be married, to get married, is just a nice thing. And there aren't that many times in life, when nice things happen," she said in a statement.
Her City Council colleague Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has also received similar praise for his Saturday wedding to his partner Dan Hendrick, especially from younger LGBT people.
Van Bramer, 42, said he is proud to see those young men and women grow up with hope instead of fear.
"I never thought it would happen in my lifetime," he said. "I think we're seeing a generation of gay and lesbian people who don't have to go through that pain."