NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Gay-rights activists Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were legally married the very first moment they could be during a midnight ceremony at Niagara Falls that ushered in same-sex marriage in the state and marked a pivotal moment in the national drive for recognition.
With a rainbow-lit Niagara Falls as a backdrop early today, Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, were among the first gay couples to tie the knot with the blessing of the state, which last month became the sixth and largest to sanction gay marriage. Couples in Albany, Hudson and Long Island also exchanged vows just after midnight Saturday, kicking off what was expected to be a day packed with weddings.
The Buffalo women, grandmothers with 12 grandchildren between them, have been together for more than a decade and had long been fighting for the right to marry.
Mayor Paul Dyster performed the ceremony, which was attended by some of the state lawmakers whose vote last month made it possible.
New York’s vote to allow gay marriage provided fresh energy to the national drive for same-sex weddings. New York joined Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with Washington, D.C.
Advocates and opponents, many of whom reject same-sex marriage on religious grounds, said the New York vote, propelled by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would invigorate both sides.
Protests were planned around the state for today, including at the state Capitol.
In Niagara Falls, Lambert and Rudd chose Luna Island at the foot of the falls for the site of their ceremony, following in the tradition of countless other couples who’ve been marrying there for more than a century.