Leaning on a cane for hours this morning in the sweltering heat, Mickey Miller, a lesbian who’s old enough to have been at many bars back when they were routinely raided (including the Stonewall Inn) was determined to get married today. She and her partner of 35 years, Judith Ricciardo (who met her first girlfriend through a lesbian group advertising in the Village Voice) were near the front of the line of Brooklyn Borough Hall this morning. Mickey, the Stonewall veteran, was dripping with sweat at times, her frail hand shaking as she gripped the handle of her cane. But there was a great strength and perseverance in her quiet stamina, and after waiting three and a half decades, she would let nothing deter her, not even the cruel grind of waiting in the brutal heat.
The service was the first same-sex wedding the judge had performed. The Judge was much more nervous than Mickey or Judith, particularly in having to walk them relationship goals knowing they’d been together so long. (“Open communication…I don’t have to tell you these things! Together after 35 years!”)
When asked if she thought she’d live to see this day, Mickey responded “I never thought I’d live to see anything after some of the things I’ve done!” with a laugh. A Brooklyn native, Micky was raised in Bed-Stuy when it was still fifty-fifty working class black and white. She is Jewish, but “not religious.”
Judith, on the other hand, was raised Catholic and wore a shining gold cross around her neck. “I believe in God. I don’t necessarily believe in the Catholic Church,” she said as she stood in line. They both chatted easily about their days in bars in the sixties, when “all the bars would get raided all the time. You just knew it was going to happen. But they were all run by the mob. So, often times, you’d get tipped off right before the cops came.”
When they went up to the Marriage Bureau counter and had to prove who they were, Judith got “a little nervous. I’ll admit it.” However, when the actual ceremony was over, she said she didn’t feel different at all. “We’ve been together so long,” she said, smiling warmly at her wife. (The Judge, on the other hand, realized as she dated their license that she’d been so excited for same-sex Sunday that she’d forgotten that it was her own husband’s birthday.)
Mickey, a retired city employee (who “started working for the city so long ago, the human resource department was called the welfare department,”) was especially proud to have the event take place at Borough Hall. They’d become domestic partners during the Giuliani administration, and were proud to take the next step right in Brooklyn.
“I’m so glad we got to do this right where we live,” Mickey said, acknowledging that, from being raided in bars to being domestic partners to being married, she and Judith had come a long, long way.