In Jackson Heights, community members joined Councilman Daniel Dromm in a Saturday morning celebration the day after the Supreme Court's ruling.
The Jackson Heights location was chosen due to it’s close ties with the LGBTQ community, especially for LGBTQ immigrants who came to the U.S. to escape discrimination and threats within their home country.
The elated group gathered around a rainbow cake and cupcakes to mark the jubilant results of a long and difficult journey. In an effort to get married, no longer do Americans need to cross borders into Canada, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.
After being in a relationship for seven years, activists Brendan Fay and his partner Tom Moulton married in 2003. At his own wedding, he reflected on a moment shared between himself and Rev. Barbara Crafton. On that day, she spoke words that has resonated with Fay ever since.
“The day will come when our grandchildren will be amazed that couples like us were denied the right to marry, just as people are amazed there was a time that couples of mixed race were denied the right to marry,” Fay recalled Crafton saying. “After the decision, the words ‘with liberty and justice for all’ takes on a new meaning for the LGBT community. There’s no more crossing the border.”
Fay joined the cause by helping numerous couples travel north to get married. Fay became a gay-rights activist after meeting Jesus LeBron, a Puerto Rican activist from the Bronx who was living with AIDS, was passionate about the struggle to legalize gay marriage.
Like Fay and Moulton, who met at a New York Catholic group for LGBTQ people, Murdoch Matthew and Gary Gilbert met at a LGBTQ Episcopal group while at Indiana University. Matthew and Gilbert have been together for 32 years and they too married in Canada.
“The Berlin Wall has finally come down and it’s the end of sexual orientation apartheid of same-sex couples in the country,” Gilbert said.
The right to marry wasn’t the only achievement celebrated at the event. Laura Cadorette and her wife Jessica Davis were pleased with the benefits extended to same-sex couples. The couple have been together for 25 years and insist that they're no different than any other couple in the country.
Still, Cadorette recalled being denied health benefits for Davis, who her employer referred to as her “person” instead of her partner. Cadorette said last week’s decision was the first time she felt as if members of the LBGTQ community mattered.
And Kathryn Daniels, a writer living in Jackson Heights, was thrilled to see how accepting society has become in general. Daniels became a supporter of Dromm ever since he pressured the police to find the murderers of Julio Rivera, a gay man wrongfully killed in Jackson Heights nearly 25 years ago.
While she also marched and fought for gay rights over the past few decades, she experienced discrimination from the time she was in college. Even though she lived in a LGBTQ-friendly dorm, students from other dorms constantly harassed them.
But celebrations around the ruling weren't limited to Jackson Heights. The mayor held an impromptu gathering at City Hall Friday after the ruling.
“America will never forget this day, and neither will people all across the world who know the meaning of love and compassion,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “June 26, 2015, will forever be memorialized as a pivotal moment in the history of our nation – the day the Supreme Court affirmed our core values of love, equality, and justice, rejected ignorance and malice, and appealed to the humanity in us all.”
For some, it was disheartening to see that the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling wasn’t nearly unanimous. In fact, there are still states trying to work around the ruling. On Monday, Alabama temporarily banned gay marriage licenses within the state for a 25-day period.
Dromm remains hopeful about the future, however, as long as members of the LBGTQ community don’t remain invisible in society.
“Letting people know who we are really makes a difference,” Dromm said. “Justice Kennedy was personally affected by this when one of his law clerks came out, and it’s that type of coming out that changes the world person by person.”
He also remains optimistic regarding his own personal life, joking “I’m not married yet, but if you know of anybody you want to send my way, I will take it under consideration.”