For Frank DeBiase and Tom McCoy of Farmingdale, the attraction was instantaneous.
The two met at a campground in Pennsylvania eight years ago; they immediately began dating. About a year and a half later, they moved in together. On Christmas Day, 2006, they exchanged wedding bands, vowing that whenever—if ever—same-sex marriage became legal in New York, they would tie the knot. They could have gotten married in other states—New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts—but getting married in New York held special significance. It was their home.
Now, Tom, 57, and Frank, 48, eagerly await their wedding day. Though they haven’t set the exact date yet, they’ll wed sometime next year.
“We knew it’d eventually come to New York,” an exuberant Frank tells the Press. “We wanted to wait.”
The two joined dozens of other gay marriage supporters and couples from across the Island Monday night at the Long Island GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) Community Center in Bay Shore to celebrate, commemorate and share tales about where they’d been at the exact moment of the historic vote and whether they now, too, had wedding plans.
Multi-colored balloons emblazoned with hearts floated among men and women, young and old, holding hands. One woman wore a shirt with the nametag “I’m available as a flower girl or bridesmaid.” Some couples brought their children, who munched on rainbow cookies. One baby sat on his mother’s lap quietly listening, dressed in a rainbow T-shirt.
“Tonight’s a time for the Long Island community to come together and celebrate,” the Center’s CEO David Kilmnick told the standing-room only crowd. In 2003, Kilmnick started the Long Island Coalition for Same-Sex Marriage initiative in this very same room.
Those in attendance were but a fraction of the countless members of the GLBT community currently relishing in their newfound right to marry in the Empire State. On June 24 at about 10 p.m. the state Senate voted 33 to 29 in favor of making New York the sixth and largest state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages. It was the final obstacle; Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the much-debated same-sex marriage bill into law approximately five minutes before midnight. Hundreds of thousands paraded through Manhattan this weekend—coincidentally, annual GLBT Pride weekend—in a show of pride and support for the decision.
Besides its jovial reverberation throughout the GLBT community, however, the bill’s passage will undoubtedly have deep ramifications across the region’s political landscape—for those lawmakers who voted in favor of and against it. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week, the public overall is almost as spilt as the Republican-led state Senate was on the night of the historic vote: nearly 50-50. Voters overall tallied 54 to 40 percent in favor; those under 35 supported the bill 70 to 26 percent. Fifty-two percent of suburbia—aka Long Island—supports gay marriage, according to the tally.