One year later, same sex couples in New York are enjoying the benefits and security of marriage. The state took a historic step last July 24th to make marriage equality law. Our Kat De Maria sat down with an Oswego County couple Tuesday and shares their unique story and perspective on their lives and love since equality.
RICHLAND, N.Y. -- They met at a dance. Not high school sweethearts, but Sandy Davis and Mary Gillen, two women nearing 60 at the time.
"I continued to ask her if she wanted to do things together, thinking I'm not going to be in a relationship. Sandy had a different idea and asked me to be her partner for life," Gillen said.
Davis had never been married and says she wasn't really interested in it. Gillen had a husband, with whom she celebrated a silver anniversary before divorcing, and had two children.
"You get to a certain age and you say, I want to be me. I want to be who I am so I can be the best that I am," Gillen said.
Gillen says she wanted to marry Davis, but in their home of New York. Davis, although unconvinced, helped friends and loved ones lobby for marriage equality.
"It just seemed like reaching for the stars, way beyond our ability to grasp," Davis said.
After equality became law in New York one year ago, Gillen and Davis got their license and spent just three weeks planning a wedding, which took place in their backyard. Gillen says it was her dream wedding, with her kids and Davis’ nieces and nephews walking them out of the woods and down the aisle toward each other. Davis says it's when she finally started to believe in marriage.
"Coming up out of the woods, I saw the smiling faces of our relatives, predominantly, and select friends smiling back at us and looking really happy for us," Davis said.
Gillen and Davis now have to fill out two sets of tax forms, as same sex unions are still not recognized federally. But they say being married has primarily made them confident and comfortable with themselves and others.
"I dare to say I'm gay, I'm lesbian," Davis said.
"It's a deep, calm, exciting feeling. And going into different groups now, let's say it's mostly straight couples, and somebody will say, 'I heard you got married.' And I say, 'Yeah, we did.' And it's just feeling more a part of everybody," Gillen said.
What started as dancing is now, after 70, cooking, gardening, kayaking, and a love for the rest of their lives.
Governor Cuomo, who made same sex marriage a priority in his administration, issued a statement on the anniversary of equality. He said, "Today, New York welcomes everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, to marry the person they love. We are proud to, once again, light the torch for equality and justice for all."