One year of gay marriage on the North Fork — by the numbers

The typical gay married person on the North Fork is a 57-year-old woman.

That’s based on marriage license applications filed by same-sex couples in Riverhead and Southold towns in the first year since the marriage equality bill took effect in New York State.

A total of 49 same-sex couples — 30 female and 19 male — have applied for marriage licenses on the North Fork since July 25, 2011, the first day they could do so here.

Seventy-four of the gay men and women obtaining wedding licenses on the North Fork were over 50 and 24 were 49 years old or younger. The youngest applicant was 29 and the oldest was 80.

“So many people waited their whole lives for this,” said David Kilmnick, CEO of Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services Network. “They are finally able to share their love and have it recognized.”

Mr. Kilmnick, who is gay, said he believes the abundance of older gay couples getting married on the North Fork has more to do with the age of the general population here than it does with anything else.

But the number of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses here has dwindled in recent months.

Thirty-seven gay and lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses on the North Fork in the first 100 days after the marriage equality bill became law. Only 12 more have done so since.

Mr. Kilmnick said he believes the downward trend after the initial jolt is a result of gay couples’ deciding to plan big weddings, as opposed to rushing to the altar.

“We’ll see a lot more in the coming years because many couples are planning their weddings now,” said Mr. Kilmnick, who is currently planning a September wedding with his partner of 11 years. “The initial push was from people who had talked about getting married their whole lives.”

A total of 10,000 same sex couples have married in New York State, according to Empire State Pride Agenda.

Mr. Kilmnick said he believes the momentum gained from other states’ passing gay marriage laws, as well as President Barack Obama’s announcing his support for same-sex marriage, will help to overturn the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

“It’s real special to look back a year ago and see how far we’ve come,” Mr. Kilmnick said. “We have a lot more allies on our side, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm officiated at the first gay marriage ceremony on the lawn at Town Hall July 28 of Theresa Claudio (left) and Nancy Zaharick of Mastic. Their toy poodle Bandit was the ring boy.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Cutchogue residents Alan Santos, right, and Michael Buckley were the first gay couple to apply for a marriage license in Southold Town.
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