Hundreds to marry, first time gay marriage allowed in NY

Jewish lesbian couple to tie the knot on day state law permitting gay and lesbian marriage comes into effect.

Gay pride 2011 465 R 3 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gay pride 2011 465 R 3
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The uncertainty lasted almost up to the last minute. Because of a flood of requests from same-sex couples to get married on Sunday, the day the state law permitting gay and lesbian marriage comes into effect, Michele Trester and Ann Macklin weren’t sure when they would be able to tie the knot until last Friday.
That’s when the Jewish lesbian couple got the call from city hall saying the planned lottery was canceled and all 850 applicants would be allowed to exchange vows on Sunday.
“We are going to get married at the Manhattan clerk office, that’s where the congregation [Beit Simchat Torah] and the rabbis will have a chuppa,” Trester said. “The city called everybody and said this is what you have to do. It was kind of nice that they did.”
The ceremony will be something of a deja vu for Trester and Macklin who already had one marriage ceremony back in 2005. That service, officiated by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which describes itself as the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender synagogue in the world, symbolized their personal and religious commitment to one another, but was not recognized by the state.
Last month New York’s senate narrowly passed a motion permitting same-sex couples to legally wed after years of heated debate.
“This historic development is one small step towards full equality for LGBT people,” Kleinbaum wrote in an e-mail earlier this week. “There is still much work to do. And anyone who uses anti-gay language in the name of religion is blaspheming God’s name.”
The Jewish community was deeply divided in its approach to gay marriage.
Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in the US, reiterated its opposition to the legislation on Thursday, directing journalists to a previously released statement.
“What was once universally acknowledged as a deviant lifestyle is now granted the name marriage – just as what was once considered murder is today simply a woman’s constitutionally protected ‘right’ to ‘reproductive freedom,’” wrote Agudath Israel’s Executive Vice President Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel in a statement circulated June 26. “When moral standards are disconnected from the eternal truths of Sinai, they have no permanence or value.”
Trester, who is a regular member at the Simchat Beit Torah congregation in Manhattan’s East Village, rejected Zweibel’s position that homosexuality is forbidden by Judaism.
“A lot of Orthodox scholars or people can find loopholes for just about anything but why, for some miraculous reason, no one can find one [for gay relationships] I can’t understand,” she said. “How come there’s not a Talmudic interpretation for a stable, loving relationship?” The soon-to-be legally married couple said the law allowing same-sex couples to marry had been a long time coming.
“We thought it would become legal in New York years ago,” Trester said. “The political effort failed in 2009 and that was really disappointing and aggravating.
When we had our big wedding in 2005 we thought it was a matter of time, but better late than never, and we want to be a part of it.”
The two said the first thing they plan to do after they get married is to sit down for a brunch with both their parents, the first time they would do so as a legally married couple.