NY Gov. Cuomo Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill
NY Gov. Cuomo Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill


New York – On June 24, 2011, the New York State Legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act which was signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo the same day.  This new law took effect on July 24, 2011.  The New York City Clerk has begun issuing marriage licenses and providing civil marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples. 

Happy Couple Cheryle Rudd and Kitty Lambert
Happy Couple Cheryle Rudd and Kitty Lambert


But even MORE exciting (for those of us who perform handfastings, anyway) the historic first gay marriage that took place in New York included a handfasting!  The lucky couple, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd (above), was married at Niagara Falls at midnight on July 25 and had Baptist, Jewish and Episcopalian clergy preside over their vows.  During their ceremony, a handfasting was performed, bonding the two together in matrimonial bliss.


cute couple
I don’t know who these other women (above) are, but I just thought this picture was so cute I had to share it




But Wait – What About DOMA?


While the State of New York is the sixth state in the US to institute gay marriage, the fight for equality isn’t over yet!  Not only do we have 44 more states to go, but the federal DOMA law (theDefense of Marriage Act federally instituted in 1996) still blocks legal same-sex couples from receiving thousands of benefits, including joint federal tax returns, federal health plans for spouses, and access to spouses’ federal pensions.


In February 2011, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in legal cases challenging its constitutionality.


However, the Attorney General said that the government will continue to enforce DOMA until there is a definitive ruling from the courts that it is unconstitutional, or repeal of the law by Congress.  Until then, lawfully married same-sex couples will continue to be denied federal recognition and the associated rights, benefits and obligations.


In the meantime, to combat the injustice that DOMA supports, in March of this year, The Respect for Marriage Act was filed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The legislation would repeal DOMA and end federal discrimination against legally married same-sex couples.


Currently, the US States that have legalized same-sex marriage and presently issue marriage licenses to gay couples are: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.