NEW YORK – With today marking the anniversary of the first marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in New York, Freedom to Marry is turning the spotlight on a diverse group of couples who are sharing their inspiring stories.
“Extending the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples in New York was a tremendous and transformative moment for the state, the nation, and the world,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, who joined city officials this morning in marking the anniversary at a celebration announcement.
“Thousands of couples have since professed their love in front of family and friends in New York, affirming and strengthening their commitment to one another and making the universal promise to share all of life’s joys and sorrows together. Today is the perfect time to redouble our efforts to win more states so that many more Americans can share in the freedom to marry.”
New York was the first state in which marriage legislation passed in a Republican-controlled legislative chamber. The legislation was championed by and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who ran for office on his pledge to pass a bill ending the exclusion of marriage from same-sex couples. The law has more than doubled the number of Americans living in a state with the freedom to marry, from 16 million to 35 million people.
Freedom to Marry is profiling many couples who married in New York after passage of the law, including:
-- Jo-Ann Shain and Mary Jo Kennedy, who have been together for nearly 30 years and were married on July 24, 2011 on the first day marriage licenses were issued in New York. They live in Brooklyn and have a daughter named Aliya.
-- Chris Boudewyns and Carl Byrd, who have been together for 10 years and were married on their anniversary, May 27, 2012, with their two-and-a-half year old daughter Harper serving as their flower girl. Chris and Carl live in Manhattan.
-- Gemma and Jessica Perkins, who married on Sept. 16, 2011 at the top of the Rockefeller Center with their daughter Ashleigh and two other guests in attendance. Because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government does not recognize their marriage and Gemma has since been forced to return to the United Kingdom. Jessica will leave the U.S. at the end of July to join Gemma.
Freedom to Marry was a founding member of New Yorkers United for Marriage, the coalition that worked to win marriage in New York which also included Empire State Pride Agenda, Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality New York, and the Log Cabin Republicans.
In the year since the passage of marriage in New York, President Barack Obama has announced his support for the freedom to marry, multiple federal courts have struck down DOMA as unconstitutional, and Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state have all passed freedom to marry laws in their respective legislatures.