Southampton locals wasted no time Friday extolling the state Senate's legalization of same-sex marriage, especially those who have long supported a shift in New York marriage laws.
"I’m very moved. I’m moved to tears actually," Southampton resident Mark Fichandler said immediately after the vote. "It's not something I imagined would happen in my lifetime when I was young."
The Senate passed the bill 33-29 in a late-night vote that took nearly a week to materialize. Southampton representative Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, voted against the bill, which will go into effect 30 days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs it into law.
"I think even those of us who benefit from this have to get used to the idea," Fichandler said . "It’s a strange idea, but I’m getting used to it very quickly”
Fichandler and his partner, Paul Travis, have been together for 27 years. He said they chose not to get married in another state or country where it is legal because they wanted their marriage to be recognized in the state where they live.
Another supporter, Lisa Votino-Tarrant, a member of the Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force and a field organizer for the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for LGBT rights, was in the Senate chamber during the vote. She posted updates throughout her day in Albany to her Facebook wall. "There's silence and anticipation in the room," she wrote about an hour before the vote. But when it passed, the chamber roared with cheers.
In order to pick up the votes needed to pass, legislators and the governor had to agree to add protections in the bill for religious institutions and nonprofits so that they would not be obligated to marry same-sex couples.
But Rev. Dr. Katrina Foster, the pastor of in Water Mill, who is married to a woman, said she is looking forward to presiding over weddings — all weddings.
"I'm very grateful that the Republicans were able to rediscover that democracy is for all of our taxpaying citizens, and that this is the proper extension of the principles that we share, of rights and responsibilities to all of us," Foster said. "I'm very grateful that my state has joined the growing number of places that recognize the rights of all citizens."
David Kilmnick of the East End Gay Organization said the change will mean a flood of marriages in the coming months. "Many people are waiting to be protected by the 1,324 rights and benefits that come along with a marriage," he said.