Maria & Vivian got married! An interview with one of NY's first same-sex couples to receive a marriage license
Not Maria and Vivian, but another couple who married in New York last weekend.
Maria loves Vivian. She has always loved her, and now, they are married.
Both Maria and Vivian are New York-born Puerto Ricans who live in Staten Island. Maria is a retired corrections officer who worked in Rikers Island for 20 years. Her longtime partner Vivian is a Manhattan bus operator. During their almost three decades together, they raised a grown daughter and built a life together that is filled with love and commitment.
A month after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law legalizing same-sex marriages, just three days ago, gay couples started getting hitched. We spoke with Maria about her marriage on Sunday, one of the first in the state. She is a friend of a friend who kindly offered us a description of what it was like at the courthouse this weekend and offered us insight into her hopes and fears.
How long have you guys been together for?
Where did you guys first meet?
In Brooklyn, through mutual friends at Hat Seals, a gay club.
When is the moment that you knew you wanted to get married?
Since we met. From the beginning of time, we knew we were soul mates. We knew we were going to be together.
You went down and got married yesterday (July 24). What was the atmosphere down at the courthouse?
Oh, my God. Beautiful. It was wonderful. I was actually overwhelmed, completely overwhelmed. Everybody was just embracing the gay marriage and everything was so organized. It was just great how they treated us.
Did you talk to any other couples there? Did you hear any inspiring stories?
I was with my friends that also got married yesterday.
How long had they been together for?
Ten months (laughs).
They wanted to get it done before… are you scared something’s going to change?
They did mention that they were a little scared that it would be taken away. It just made me think about it also. But we had to enroll online. We applied for the marriage license and then we also had to win the lottery because there were so many people who’ve been together for so many years waiting for this to happen that everybody wanted to take the first opportunity to do it.
I know down in New York, it was wow, a lot of people, but here in Staten Island, because it’s such a small volume there were only like 62 or 65 couples that got married yesterday in Staten Island.
Do you have a family together? Any children?
Yes, we have a 21 year old daughter by artificial insemination. We had all our family there. My mom has always been very great with us.
What did your daughter have to say about all of this? Was she excited to see her mothers get married?
She was extremely excited. This is just like a piece of the puzzle.
Do you have any fears about this? Anything you’re scared of?
I really didn’t have any fear about it. I’ve had conversations with some of my friends, and she had pointed out to me that even though they had passed the law for us to get married, there’s always an exception, there’s always something. If someone is dating someone from another country they can request papers for them, and in a relationship for so many years. Why is it that we just can’t have the same rights like everybody else completely, not just a little bit.
When we had artificial insemination. Her other mom is not on the birth certificate, I think that would give us an opportunity to do so. That was one of the most important things for us. We have been in a 27 year relationship, very much committed. This was not just going to make it real. When we got married, it was for those other reasons too, and the fact that we still love each other.
Getting both your names on your daughters the birth certificate?
That’s one of the good things that it will bring to us, being legally married. We will be able to fix that. My daughter’s like, “Mom, before I get married and my birth certificate comes out, you both to walk me down the aisle if I get married that way. I want to be sure that whoever sees my birth certificate it shows I have two moms on it.” It’s always been something really important to her.
This will help with your benefits, with retiring (Vivian retires in 4 years)?
Oh, yes. That’s another thing.
I’m so happy for you guys. It’s such a thrill. Are you planning a honeymoon or anything?
You know what, it’s funny but, we already had a family vacation going on for Nicaragua on Thursday. It’s turning into our honeymoon. So that worked out very well!
Good timing! You got married in Staten Island, you said, so you didn’t have much of a crowd. Did you still have to wait?
We arrived at about 9 and let me tell you something, I was so impressed. Even the police department, the cops were there, a couple of cars. They shut down the whole area so that we were able to stand on line and so our families could be there. What happened is my daughter fractured her foot two weeks ago, so she’s on crutches. And then my mom is disabled and she walks with a walker. I was impressed because when they saw my family getting out of the car, my wife was going to leave us in the front. They were like, “Absolutely not, leave the car parked here, we’re going to take care of it.” Then we parked there, no ticket. Everyone was just in good harmony yesterday.
No one was hateful with signs?
Nothing. I’m telling you. I was like wow, I’m so impressed. I thought we might encounter some people that were screaming. Nobody was picketing. Outside everybody was cheering. Even the straight, heterosexual people were there. They were cheering with their children. It was very nice.
Congratulations, Maria, Vivian, and all of New York!