City clerk denies marraige for boro same-sex couples

By Alex Davidson

The city clerk denied dozens of same-sex couples their requests for marriage licenses as the pursuit among gays and lesbians fighting for the right to wed arrived in New York City last Thursday.

Among those hoping to gain the right to marry was Long Island City resident Jonathan Cho, who grew up in Bayside.

“You would think that a queen from Queens could get married these days?” the 33-year-old Cho said. “This is about basic human rights.”

Cho, who went to downtown Manhattan with his friends, echoed the sentiments of hundreds gathered across from City Clerk Victor Robles’ office at City Hall. Together they shouted, “2, 4, 6, 8, love does not discriminate,” and, “What do we want? Civil marriage! When do we want it? Now!” as police stood by and watched the participants.

The feeling among the crowd was that New York was behind other traditionally progressive cities such as San Francisco in championing the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will follow state law, which has been interpreted by both supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage as either endorsing or criminalizing the act.

“I think we are too late,” said Michael Mut, 42, who along with his partner, Louis Yungling, tried to get but was denied a marriage license. “We are behind the times and I think it is embarrassing.”

Javier Cobo, another Long Island City resident, blamed the leadership of Republicans Bloomberg, first elected in 2001, and Gov. George Pataki, first elected in 1994, for stalling the progression of same-sex marriages in both the city and state.

“It is wrong to not allow them (same-sex marriages). It is wrong to prohibit them,” Cobo said.

Gordon Kahn and his partner of 10 years, Ed Galloway, stood with their three adopted children while waiting to ask the city clerk for a marriage license. The couple said they have already registered as civil partners, currently allowed under city law, but want the thousands of benefits such as hospital visitation and custody rights that come only with marriage.

“Separate but equal doesn’t work well in this country. It never has,” Kahn said.

Kahn and his partner, who both live in Manhattan, were later denied their request to get city-sanctioned marriages.

“What is my family doing to hurt anyone else?” Galloway asked. “The answer is nothing.”

He added: “We are at least here to make a statement.”

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued a statement following the march and marriage ceremonies in the village of New Paltz, N.Y. by Green Party Mayor Jason West that said same-sex wedlock is illegal. The matter is now before the State Supreme Court following a host of lawsuits by same-sex couples seeking to get married.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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