Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gay marriage comes to Rochester, NY....

....and the Libey household!!

Yes, that's right----it's heinously overdue...but finally a new post on our blog.  I know I've once again gone into terrible delinquency in posting to this blog lately (it's been over a month since our last post was about our July 4th trip!!)'s been a busy time here the past has been crazy, our summer schedules have been very busy, Gay Pride was in mid-July (which is a lot of time and effort through my full time job), we've been doing work in our house and yard while the weather is nice (bought a new bathroom sink/counter/vanity top---which is now installed----and ordered new storm door and sliding doors for our deck...anxiously awaiting their arrival), Merlin has started obedience classes (post to come on that later---I promise)....and, of course, there's also the teensy little fact that WE ARE FINALLY LEGALLY MARRIED!!!

So here is the (belated) story of how same sex marriage came to the Libey household here in Rochester... we posted way back in June, we were thrilled when the NYS Senate approved the same-sex marriage bill and the governor signed it.  We decided immediately (actually we had made this decision a while prior---but that night the decision was crystalized for us), that as soon as the law went into effect we would immediately do the legal part of the process to get a marriage license and get legally married----and that we would probably then plan a ceremony/reception of some kind for later on when we had more time to plan, get things together, etc.  We made this decision because: 1.) we wanted to be immediately able to access the legal recognitions/benefits that come with marriage (and, which, quite honestly we felt we should have had for years now! LOL)...and 2.) because in several other states even after marriage equality has passed, it's been a precarious situation and sometimes those rights end up getting further restricted or repealed (a la "Proposition 8" in California) and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss our chance.  So on July 24th, when the law officially went into effect, we knew we wanted to be among the first couples to be at City Hall to get our marriage license.

Now, July 24th was a Sunday and most City Halls are closed, obviously.  In Rochester (and a variety of other communities around the state), however, they made the decision to open the clerk's office in City Hall on that Sunday afternoon for limited hours (1pm to 5pm)----and what was even more impressive was that all the city employees who came in to work volunteered to do so and did not get overtime pay or anything for it!

I have Sundays off during the summer and so Jason and I woke up early that morning and made a nice breakfast (yum blueberry pancakes--with blueberries from Jason's father's garden---and sausage!) ran a couple errands and then we walked down to City Hall which is about a 15 minute walk from our house.  It was a hot, sunny, beautiful day.  City Hall opened at 1pm but we anticipated that there might be a line and crowd so we left home around noon and got to City Hall at about 12:15pm.  As we got near City Hall, we noticed that the city had hung pride flags from the street poles (they always do that during Pride week but they either left them up or decided to put them back up to celebrate marriage equality)...and a small crowd had already gathered at the doors to City Hall and there was music, balloons, signs, etc.  It was a jubilant and festive environment!!

Part of the crowd that gathered before the doors opened.
Some of the folks who were there were just there to show support.  Some were from local organizations giving out information.  Some were press covering the historic day.  And, of course, there were other couples there to get their marriage licenses.  We got in line and ended up being the 5th couple in line (the third male couple).  While we waited, we socialized with some of the other folks in line, connected with friends and colleagues who were there....and even got interviewed by the press a few times.  Because we were there early and obviously there for a marriage license we got interviewed and/or photographed/filmed by several local new stations and the newspaper.  (Here are some links to the online articles and/or video where you can see footage of us and/or read/hear us interviewed and quoted:  Channel 10, Channel 9, and Channel 8/31).

We waited outside City Hall for a while (and it was WARM in the sun!) until the doors opened and then we proceeded inside.  Once we got inside, as I said we were pretty close to the front of the line and so we were able to get into the actual clerk's office pretty quickly. The process was pretty quick----we had to show ID (we brought our passports), we had to pay a fee, and we had to fill out an application form.  The form is pretty standard half is for spouse #1 (formerly the "groom" side---I filled out that side) and the other is for spouse #2 (formerly the "bride" side---Jason did that half).  It asked for all the obligatory things----names, addresses, previous marriages, etc.  I filled out my half first and then Jason did his half.  On his half where it asked for your "surname after marriage" Jason wrote in the word "LIBEY" (we went through a long process over the previous couple weeks about what to do about last names.  It was important to us to have the same last name because it solidified the idea that we were not just a couple, but a family...and after toying with creating a hyphenated name, a new name, a hybrid name...we settled on both using my last name)----and I have to admit that watching over his shoulder as he filled it out and officially "took my name" it kinda got me in the gut and I started to tear up....because it made it feel suddenly even more real!

Once the paperwork was done there was just a short wait while they typed our license up and we paid and then we were out of the clerk's office.  As we were leaving there was still quite a line in the main hallway and the crowd erupted into applause for us, and every couple, who emerged with their envelope containing their license in hand.  We saw many people and couples we knew, hung out for a bit and chatted with friends and acquaintances and even went to a community celebration/reception being held at a gay-friendly church across the street where they were serving punch and snacks (like the cake pictured above).  Then it was time to walk home----and begin the mandated 24 hour wait until we could actually "seal the deal"......

Bridget, me, Jason, Sady, Steven & our completed marriage license. that was Sunday.  NY State requires that you wait at least 24 hours from getting your license issued before you can actually be legally married and so we made plans to complete the process on Monday evening after work.  In order to complete the process you need an officiant and one or two witnesses (I think it's traditional that each party brings has one witness).  My boss at work for the past 11 years, Steven, is both a dear friend and also an ordained UCC minister and he agreed to be our officiant for both this small legal proceeding as well as for our "real" ceremony/celebration later on.  In addition, Jason's step-sister, Bridget (who helped bring our puppy Merlin into our life), and Sady, a long-time coworker and one of my closest friends, were both present to sign the license as our witnesses.

Now, I had told them all, this was just a formality----we were basically just all going to get together for a few minutes, sign the necessary papers and be done with pomp and circumstance, nothing special.  Steven, however, is much more sentimental and had other he had planned out some actual vows and had both Bridget and Sady do brief readings and we did it on our back porch/deck so there was a somewhat appealing surrounding. At first when Steven said this is how we would do it...I thought "Oh brother, this isn't supposed to be a big is not the special day!"....but it was one of those times when someone else clearly knows better than you know for yourself....because once we started, the emotions underlying the significance of what we were doing became apparent for everyone.  I was tearing up.  Jason was positively glowing.  Our friends there to participate were choking was very, very special.    Here are some pictures:
Steven leading the ceremony.

Bridget doing an initial reading.

" the power vested in me by the State of New York, I now pronounce you married..."

" may kiss your husband..."

Sady signing to make it official.

Bridget helping us seal the deal.

Steven----the final step.  Then it's off in the mail and the official copy arrives very soon!
So.....there you have PART 1 of the wedding story of Mr. & Mr. Libey......PART 2 will come sometime in April 2012 with an more public wedding ceremony here in Rochester to bring friends and family together to celebrate with us....and I'm sure there will be many blogs between now and then about the planning process!


  1. Yay, yay, YAY!!!!! Even though I knew this had happened it makes me so excited to read about it and I teared up about the surname part. I'm so happy for you both and can't wait to see your rings on the proper fingers next month!

  2. We are so happy for you both!! So exciting to actually see the pictures! (And excited to see a blg post! ) And where was Merlin during all this :)

  3. Thank you for sharing pictures and details of the beginning of your new life together. Can't wait for a chance to join the celebration on the way to Hawaii on April! Merlin??

  4. Congratulations. I am so happy for you both. It is just so wonderful. You two love each other so much. I am so happy that NY will recognize that now.

  5. It's about time!! Congratulations---even though I knew you were married it was wonderful to read this and yes I am crying now. I am so happy for you both.

  6. Stephanie (Steffy) MDecember 3, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    This is just wonderful news. I'm so happy for you both! Very cool. I wish you love.