Marriage Among Friends in Staten Island
Maria Cruz, 47, sat in the clerk's office on the third floor of the Staten Island Borough Hall waiting to get her license in order to marry her partner of 27 years, Vivian Roman, 49. She was "nervous," she told us.
"Just excited," she said. "Happy."
Her daughter, also named Vivian, a 21-year-old conceived via artificial insemination, looked at her mother and said, "Now it's really for real."
A staff member standing in the doorway interjected: "It's always been real," she said, adding, "Now it's legal."
Although crowds and protesters flocked to other boroughs, Staten Island's Same-Sex Sunday was a subdued affair. State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Matthew Titone handed out cupcakes and champagne to newlyweds as they exited the borough hall, outside of which a group participating in a "love-in" would cheer and ring bells. Robin Garber, 58, and her wife of five years (married in Canada) Katie Cumiskey, 41, handed out leis and blew bubbles. We were told 38 couples had been scheduled to appear based on the lottery.
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Maria and Vivian, who already had a big celebration for their domestic partnership in 2001, were married in their neighborhood along with their close friends Ramona Perez, 38, and Aracelis Ramos, 47. Ramona and Aracelis have been dating for 10 months. Theirs was Ramona's first lesbian relationship.
"That was instant," she said. "Like oatmeal -- hot."
As the couples waited for their turn, Diana Perez, 44, Aracelis' "best friend," wrote on and decorated the black SUVs in which both couples would drive away, adding cans and balloons to Aracelis'.
But despite the fanfare, this was not Ramona and Aracelis' final big day. They will also have a formal wedding at a golf course on October 9. The same was true for another couple on the Island. Eric Schneider, 26, and Adam Abramson, 32, who live on the Upper East Side but came to Staten Island figuring it wouldn't be as packed, will have a Jewish ceremony ("ketubah and everything") in Florida.
But the decision for Aracelis and Ramona to officially tie the knot today was one recommended by none other than their wedding planner.
"There is that hidden fear of overturning the law," Ramona said.
Maria and Vivian and Aracelis and Ramona were married one after another, letting one of the few opposite sex couples present go in front of them on line so they could enter the hall together. Their pack of friends and family was about 22 strong, Maria said, and both Aracelis and Vivian Cruz were in wheelchairs -- the former having had partial knee replacement surgery and the latter with a fractured foot. Aracelis and Ramona's ceremony occurred seated, a suggestion of Judge Elizabeth Foley, who pulled up a chair alongside the couple and chatted with Aracelis about her procedure.
Upstairs, just minutes before, Maria and Vivian kissed through tears as Judge Charles Troia pronounced them "married under the law of the state of New York."
When they parted he said they had "jumped the ship," kissing before the "You may now kiss" part of the ceremony.
They kissed again.
Watch Maria and Vivian's ceremony:
Aracelis and Ramona talk about their courtship:
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