NEW YORK – As the news flashed around the globe that New York state had legalized gay marriage, New York fashion designer Malcolm Harris didn’t waste any time. He dashed off a Twitter message to his boyfriend of nine years: “Will you marry me?”
In Boston, Bernadette Smith decided to immediately relocate her business planning gay weddings to New York City.
In Brooklyn, pastors Ann Kansfield and Jennifer Aull received their first two requests to wed gay couples at their church in the borough’s Greenpoint section. They scheduled one for Labor Day weekend.
Even as supporters of gay marriage celebrated victory in New York on Saturday, preparations were being made to make gay weddings a reality in the state.
Couples who had talked about going out-of-state to wed changed their plans. Reception venues got their first calls. Churches that accept gay unions said they were looking forward to hosting ceremonies.
After a lifetime of waiting, there was a sense of urgency.
The law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Friday night doesn’t take effect for 30 days, but Harris – who got a “yes” to his Twitter proposal – said he and fiance K. Tyson Perez planned to get a marriage license right away, wed on paper, and then have a blowout reception in six months.
“I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him,” Harris said.
“This is going to be as traditional as it gets. We’re going to do it at the Four Seasons, a place that is like gay church to me,” he added about the atmospheric restaurant where he planned to hold the event.
The law passed amid opposition from the largest and most influential religious groups in the state, but in New York City, at least, there were still an ample number of churches that have already said they would happily officiate a gay marriage ceremony.
At a gay pride celebration in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, the Rev. Joseph Tolton of the Rehoboth Temple Christ Conscious Church, a Pentecostal congregation that is predominantly gay, said he couldn’t wait to start.
“I’m going to be very busy on Saturdays,” he said.
Smith, who founded a gay wedding planning business in Massachusetts after it legalized gay marriage, said she had been hoping to relocate to New York for some time, and had already begun laying the groundwork to establish a New York officer for her company, 14 Stories, in anticipation of the vote.
The move is partly a matter of survival, she said. Over seven years, her client list has been dominated by people traveling to Massachusetts from elsewhere to wed – a type of tourism that may now shift to the Big Apple.
“I was supposed to have a gay wedding today with a gay couple from New York,” she said. “They were a no-show. Of course, for a good reason.”