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03/09/19 6:00am
03/09/2019 6:00 AM

Last week, delegates from the United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant denominations in the country, gathered at the General Conference in St. Louis, Mo., and voted against the One Church Plan. The measure would have given individual churches the flexibility to decide how to handle issues of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy.  READ

07/26/12 6:00am
07/26/2012 6:00 AM

Asked why he failed to support marriage equality when the bill failed in the state Senate three years ago, North Fork Senator Ken LaValle told a Times/Review reporter that his decision was a reflection of what his constituents wanted.

“What I have heard from a lot of people is that we are just not ready for it,” the Republican from Port Jefferson said. “It could happen someday in the future, but just not right now.”

The future began a year ago this week, as gay and lesbian couples were finally allowed to marry in New York State. Citing reasons similar to those he gave in 2009, Mr. LaValle voted against last year’s bill, too. Local Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) also voted no on marriage equality.

Now a full year has passed and we ask Mr. LaValle, Mr. Losquadro and anyone else opposed to gay marriage just how their lives have been negatively affected by the 49 same-sex couples who have applied for marriage licenses on the North Fork in these past 12 months.

We suspect their lives haven’t changed much at all.

Here’s what has changed:

At least 98 of their neighbors (many more could have applied for licenses elsewhere) have been able to exercise a right so many of us take for granted. These same-sex couples have finally been given the same basic rights the state affords any of us.

They’ve been able to share in the joys and benefits of marriage. The pains, too.

Equality. Finally.

But there’s still work to be done.

One year later, 30 states still ban all forms of marriage not involving one man and one woman, and just five other states have comprehensive laws providing marriage equality like New York’s.

The Defense of Marriage Act still stands in the way of marriage equality for all Americans, despite many current active attempts to repeal the federal law.

Marriage equality in New York is a bright, shining example of how government can enact change for the good of its people. We hope the rest of America is watching. We hope they’re ready for it.

07/24/12 9:30am
07/24/2012 9:30 AM

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.

Some same-sex couples in Southold Town are celebrating their first wedding anniversaries this week, as today marks a year since the marriage equality bill went into effect in New York.

One of those couples is Alan Santos, 60, and Michael Buckley, 50, of Cutchogue. They were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license at Southold Town Hall July 25.

“We’re thrilled and delighted,” Dr. Santos said during an interview at his home this week. “It provides us with a level of security that we didn’t have before … If I got sick or he got sick, I know now that our rights are protected.”

Dr. Santos is chairman of the anesthesiology department at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan and Mr. Buckley is a teacher. Fourteen years ago, they adopted their son, Randel Buckely-Santos, 24, who is currently planning his own wedding with his fiance, Shannon Maechling, 22.

Prior to the same-sex marriage law passing, Dr. Santos and Mr. Buckley didn’t think about marriage. But after the state passed the landmark legislation, the couple felt an urgency to get married in order to show their support to the people that made gay marriage possible. In addition, they decided to get married quickly because they feared the decision would be overturned.

After applying for a marriage license, the couple had a simple wedding ceremony at City Hall in Manhattan and went to a deli for lunch afterward. They decided not to have an elaborate wedding because they had a big celebration for their 20th anniversary in 2009.

To celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary, the couple plans go on safari in Kenya where Dr. Santos is also giving a lecture about anesthesiology.

“For us, it was never really that important [to get married] because our families and friends accepted us,” Mr. Buckley said. “We felt it was important because many people worked so hard that we felt we should follow through and do it in order to show our support.”

Dr. Santos and Mr. Buckley are one of the 28 same-sex couples who have applied for a marriage license in Southold Town over the past year.

Pick up Thursday’s paper to read more about the first year of same-sex marriage on the North Fork.

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09/25/11 4:24pm
09/25/2011 4:24 PM

JULIE LANE PHOTO | New York City Family Court Justice Emily Olshanski and attorney Karen Funk during Sunday's forum.

About 100 gay women — some already married and others contemplating taking that step now that it’s legal in New York  — left a forum at the town recreation center in Peconic Sunday with as many questions as they had coming in the door.

That’s not because the forum, sponsored by North Fork Women for Women Fund, wasn’t comprehensive. Rather, it’s because the new law passed June 24 hasn’t yet been tested in the courts.

A panel of legal  and tax experts  shared their advice with caveats about how complex marriage-related laws, even for  heterosexual couples.

“The purpose of this panel is to identify the issues,” said moderator and attorney Mary Dorman. Whether or not couples proceed to the altar, panelists agreed it’s critical to have several documents in place, including a will, health care proxy, living will and durable power of attorney. That’s because even if all rights afforded heterosexual sexual couples in New York accrue to same sex couples, there’s no national recognition of same sex marriage and outside of states where it’s sanctioned, there are no such protections for gay couples.

There are also questions about how state law applies to same-sex couples who married in other states or countries prior to enactment of New York’s law.

While some attendees left convinced they might not benefit from marriage, others who took the step in other states aren’t looking back.

Complete coverage of the forum will appear in Thursday’s Suffolk Times.

07/15/11 12:07pm
07/15/2011 12:07 PM

Many people have waited decades for the opportunity, but there’s just one more week before same-sex marriage licenses will be available at Southold Town Hall.

The Marriage Equality Act goes into effect across New York State on Sunday, July 24, but since  Town Hall is closed on Sundays, same-sex marriage licenses will first become available in the town clerk’s office on Monday morning, July 25.

All couples seeking a marriage license must provide documentation such as a birth certificate, drivers license, knowledge of their Social Security number and, if applicable, divorce paperwork. A staffer will walk a couple through the application process, and although the $40 license can be issued that day, there’s a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before a ceremony can be performed. Each license is valid for 60 days

Couples looking to be wed in Town Hall are directed to the Justice Court, where an appointment can be made with one of the town justices. The judges typically perform ceremonies on Friday mornings prior to the weekly court session, often on the lawn to the north of the Town Hall complex during pleasant weather, or at mid-day Mondays.

Additional information is available at the town clerk’s website, southoldtown.northfork.net/town_clerk.htm.