Tag Archives: gay marriage

Local pols praise Supreme Court DOMA ruling


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste

Local politicians, including several openly gay and married elected officials, praised the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a law which denied same-sex couples the legal protections afforded to heterosexual spouses.

“When I realized that I was gay, I thought that all of those things that I dreamed about would be denied to me. And in fact, our government said that I couldn’t have those things. I couldn’t get married, I couldn’t be equal,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said at a press conference on June 25, the day of the ruling.

Van Bramer became the first openly gay elected official to get married in Queens when he wed his longtime partner Dan Hendrick last July.

All same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is legal will now be eligible for federal benefits given to their heterosexual counterparts.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s opinion for the majority.

The case’s plaintiff, New York resident Edith Windsor, was trying to collect a refund from the Internal Revenue Service for $363,053 in federal estate taxes she paid when her spouse died in 2009. DOMA prohibited her from collecting the money.

In another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on June 26 dismissed the California Proposition 8 case. Two days later, same sex marriage resumed in the state.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who will be the city’s first openly gay mayor if she is elected this fall, marked her one year wedding anniversary in May.

“It’s almost impossible for me to describe what this means,” said Quinn, calling DOMA a “cancer.”

Daniel Dromm, another openly gay member of the City Council, said the court righted a “grave injustice” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Extended tax benefits could save same sex couples money each year. Some of the benefits of filling as a married couple include a greater earned income tax credit and additional exemptions for any children, according to George Sotrillis, a Great Neck-based accounting and tax consultant.

Other new legal rights will give them the same military benefits heterosexual already receive and grant them marriage- and fiancé-based visas.

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court [...] I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a July 1 statement.

Naresh Gehi, an immigration trial lawyer from the Forest Hills and Ozone Park-based firm Gehi and Associates said he has already received several inquiries from same-sex couples following the DOMA decision.

Updated Wednesday, July 3

 

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| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Van Bramer set to wed longtime partner this weekend


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

DanJimmy1w

On a warm November night last year in Puerto Rico, Dan Hendrick slipped a silver ring from his pocket, descended on one knee and proposed to long-time partner Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

Thoughts of marriage had lingered in Hendrick’s mind for some time, but busy schedules always intervened. They talked about it on and off, delaying concrete plans until it was lawful for them to marry in New York.

Now, the timing was perfect. Nervously, excitedly, Hendrick popped the question.

A year after the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State, one of Queens’ first openly-gay officials will tie the knot with his partner of more than 13 years on July 28.

The pair met at a fundraiser for Queens Pride House in 1999. Van Bramer recalled standing at the bar, ordering a glass of wine as Hendrick entered the room.

“I don’t know if I believe in love at first site but I certainly noticed him the moment he walked in the door,” said Van Bramer.

He asked a mutual friend about the man with the red hair. Hendrick inquired the same friend about the man in the suit. They knew they needed to talk.

Almost 13 years later, they were engaged.

With 225 friends and family invited, the pair plans to dance to their favorite music from the 70s, 80s and 90s at the summery, rooftop affair, to be held at Studio Square in Long Island City.

To them, the most meaningful part of their wedding is sharing it with the loved ones witnessing their union. The couple said their families couldn’t be more excited.

“My mother cried tears of joy,” said Van Bramer. “She was very happy for us and she adores Dan. I think everyone in the family was thrilled.”

Planning their upcoming nuptials has been a team effort, each responsible for a different task. They selected local vendors to assist with the wedding, supplying everything from the flowers in blue and orange — their favorite colors — from Brooklyn Grange, to the beautiful, custom invitations by Big City Graphics, illustrating the couple’s story.

The grooms picked summer suits for the occasion – Hendrick’s from J. Crew and Van Bramer’s by Calvin Klein. They traded their silver rings for matching gold ones, engraved with their names and the date of their wedding, July 28, 2012.

The couple said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly and exclusively positive.

“The number of people who know we’re getting married surprises me,” said Van Bramer. “It’s rare I go through a full day without someone congratulating me and wishing me the best. People are very supportive and incredibly gracious. It’s been very heartwarming.

Hendrick believes the support they have received is indicative of increasing acceptance

“What’s interesting about this is how uncontroversial it is and how in the scheme of things, this is just two people getting up and having a wedding. That’s what’s exciting about it,” said Hendrick.

He said it’s what we’ll see from this point on.

“People fall in love,” he said.

The couple was present at City Hall, overseeing the inking of the budget agreement, when speaker Christine Quinn announced the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York in July of 2011.

“It was a really exciting moment,” said Hendrick. “Everyone’s BlackBerries went off and the shouts went up. It was an electric moment. Elation is not too strong a word here.”

Van Bramer, who was standing on the steps by the mayor when the news was released, immediately searched in the crowd for Hendrick.

“We have come so far so fast,” said Van Bramer. When I came out in 1989, I would have never thought that two men or two women would get married in my lifetime. It’s equality through its own sheer power of conviction. It’s so amazingly exhilarating to see so many people agreeing with us that this is a basic civil right and that two people loving and committing to each other is worthy of celebration, regardless of who those people are.”

Same-sex marriage generated $259 million in first year


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

IMG_6033w

A first anniversary is always exciting, and this one even more so.

July 24 marked one year since the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. The thousands of same-sex couples that married in New York City since gay marriage became legal in the state on July 24, 2011, have brought in millions for the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office estimated that the nuptials have generated $259 million in economic impact and $16 million in revenue. On average, same-sex couples spent $9,039 for their wedding celebrations.

Marriage license application forms don’t require individuals to identify their sex, so there is no exact count of how many same-sex licenses were issued. However, in the past year, of those who did identify, 58,136 couples were heterosexual and 7,184 were same-sex. Of those, 574 were from Queens.

Out of the same-sex couples, 3,898 were male and 3,286 were female.

When the Marriage Equality Act passed, the city hoped for these positive economic numbers. After the legalization, NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing and tourism organization, launched its “NYC I DO” campaign, promoting the city as a top wedding and honeymoon destination.

On July 28, openly gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and his partner will join the thousands of same-sex couples who have celebrated their weddings in the city.

“Love and commitment are worthy of celebration and New York City is once again at the forefront of equality. We are all enriched when people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and yes, marry the one they choose,” said Van Bramer.

His wedding and reception will take place at Studio Square in Long Island City.

Riverview restaurant is another popular place in LIC to hold wedding receptions, with its beautiful views of the water and Manhattan skyline. Before the Marriage Equality Act, same-sex couples celebrated their relationships at the restaurant, but it’s held many wedding receptions for gay couples in the past year, said general manager Kimo Raouf, including 10 to 15 in the last couple of months.

Riccardo’s by the Bridge, a catering facility in Astoria, has also seen an uptick, but only a small one.

“I did feel that it certainly would open up marriage to a new market,” said Anthony Corbisiero, Ricarrdo’s president. “Honestly, I thought we would do more.”

Before the legalization, the venue had about one or two same-sex weddings a year, and in the past year has had about four.

 

Obama says same-sex marriage should be legal


| jlane@queenscourier.com

President Obama said Wednesday that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview at the White House.

The president’s decision to address the issue directly came after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage during an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday.

[New York Post]

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| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

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