New York marriage, or not


A month ago, Jenny looked out the window into our backyard.

“What are the odds that marriage will come to New York this year?”

“David Paterson thinks they’re pretty good,” I said.

She was quiet a minute.

“What if,” she said, “instead of planning our wedding for Massachusetts or Connecticut, we had the reception right here in our backyard next summer?”

Our backyard. That seemed amazing. First, of course, it is amazing that we even have a backyard in Manhattan. We’re all the way uptown, which partly explains it, but a series of lucky events means that we’re paying very little for two-and-a-half bedrooms, two bathrooms — and that holy grail of Manhattanites, private outdoor space.

But second, it would be amazing because, even though we both spent most of our adult lives in Chicago, it was New York where we fell in love. On the C train. On the steps at Columbia University.

Not to mention that having the reception at home would save us a good deal of money.

And then, last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did an interview with Gay City News.

The chances marriage would be passed in New York this year?

“Zero,” he said. “Zero.”

Bloomberg, of course, is not in the state legislature. Still, he’s pro-equal marriage and one of the most influential politicians in New York state. If he thinks it’s not going to happen — well, then it’s likely not going to happen. Not this year.

What has happened to marriage this past summer? Last spring, all seemed hopeful. New England states were falling into gay marriage like dominoes. Iowans were celebrating their equality. New York and New Jersey were predicted to come next.

Now, whether Maine will keep marriage is up for a popular vote in November. A recent Iowa poll shows that citizens of that state are evenly divided as to whether they would vote for a constitutional ban on gay marriage — even though 92 percent of Iowans say it wouldn’t affect them.

And New York, thanks to the circus that is the state legislature, has perhaps let marriage march out of the center ring, at least for now.

Jenny and I are lucky enough to have other options. New York recognizes out-of-state marriages, and so we could hop a train to Connecticut, get married in City Hall, and have a church wedding and reception back home in New York.

Or we could do what we originally planned, which is to get married in the chapel and on the grounds of the pretty Massachusetts college where I’m an alum.

But we really wanted to get married in New York. Actually married, not just have a celebration of our marriage. We really wanted our minister to say, “By the power invested in me by the State of New York, I pronounce you spouses for life.”

Tradition is important to both of us, and we think it will go a long way toward softening the hearts of those in our families who are not quite on board with our relationship.

But perhaps it is not to be.

So Jenny and I will get married in Connecticut next summer. Or Massachusetts. And perhaps we will celebrate our marriage in New York, and perhaps we will celebrate it in a tent at Wellesley.

But it frustrates me, and angers me, and makes me deeply sad that political machinations and calculations are keeping us from getting legally married in the city where we fell in love.

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning syndicated columnist. E-mail her at [email protected].