Sat, July 23, Sat, July 23, 7: Gay-rights activists Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were legally married the very first moment they could be during a midnight ceremony at Niagara Falls that ushered in same-sex marriage in the state and marked a pivotal moment in the national drive for recognition.
With a rainbow-lit Niagara Falls as a backdrop early Sunday, Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, were among the first gay couples to tie the knot with the blessing of the state, which last month became the sixth and largest to sanction gay marriage.
Couples in Albany, Hudson and Long Island also exchanged vows just after midnight Saturday, kicking off what was expected to be a Sunday packed with weddings. Lambert and Rudd, grandmothers with 12 grandchildren between them, have been together for more than a decade and had long been fighting for the right to marry. The couple, both of Buffalo, smiled broadly as they exchanged traditional marriage vows, promising to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health.
A crowd of several hundred people cheered as they were pronounced married and shared their first kiss. Everything was absolutely perfect. Mayor Paul Dyster performed the ceremony, which was attended by some of the state lawmakers whose vote last month made it possible.
Sunday in the Common Council's chambers. A state Supreme Court judge waived the state-mandated hour waiting period between the time a marriage license is issued and when a couple can be legally wed, Jennings said. New York's vote to allow gay marriage provided fresh energy to the national drive for same-sex weddings.
Advocates and opponents, many of whom reject same-sex marriage on religious grounds, said the New York vote, propelled by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would invigorate both sides. Protests were planned around the state for Sunday, including at the state Capitol. In Niagara Falls, Lambert and Rudd chose Luna Island at the foot of the Falls for the site of their ceremony, following in the tradition of countless other couples who've been marrying there for more than a century.
The waterfalls were lit, for the first time, in the hues of the rainbow, the symbol of gay equality and pride.
Plans were for a municipal clerk to be on hand to sign their marriage license after midnight, along with a state Supreme Court judge to waive the hour waiting period. The Falls also will be the backdrop for a group wedding on Monday, with more than 40 couples planning to simultaneously marry. They married in Quebec three years ago and had considered themselves married since they met and moved in together in Simeone, a stylist on Long Island's north shore, said he's only sorry it took New York so long to recognize same-sex marriage.