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Gay, Jewish New Yorkers: Mazel tov to the newlyweds!

Maybe you’ve heard: As of last Sunday, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of New York. The law, which passed in June, went into effect over the weekend.

Let’s recap some of the Jewish highlights this new law brought about, shall we? There are quite a few of them!

  • At the stroke of midnight on Sunday morning, as soon as the law went into effect, Patchogue, N.Y., couple Dee Smith and Kate Wrede married at their local town hall. A Supreme Court Justice from Queens agreed to join them for the late-night wedding, making their historic – and Jewish! – event the first same-sex ceremonies in the Empire State. Rabbi Lev Baesh, a gay man himself, shares his feelings about officiating at Smith and Wrede’s ceremony. Visit Interfaith Family to see Smith and Wrede discuss their relationship and learn more their search for a rabbi to officiate a gay, interfaith wedding. 

  • Nearly 200 couples were in line to marry in New York City when the doors to city hall opened at 8:00am. Phyllis Siegal, 77, and Connie Kopelov, 85, both Jewish, became New York City’s first legally married same-sex couple – they’ve been together for 23 years. A group of Orthodox protesters gathered outside Mayor Bloomberg’s home to demonstrate their opposition to the new law.

  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously officiated at one of the states first Jewish weddings where John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, two of his longtime employees, married at the mayor’s Upper East Side home. The couple met on a blind date more than a decade ago.

  • With the Reform Movement solidly in favor of same-sex marriage and the Orthodox Movement solidly opposed to it, the Conservative Movement has found itself in a pickle. When the New York law passed last month, Conservative rabbis found themselves wondering where they fall on the issue. The end result, for now, is that Conservative rabbis can decide for themselves what they’re comfortable with.

In the following clip from Euronews, you can see Mayor Bloomberg marrying John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, and then hear from Phyllis Siegal and Connie Kopelov right after their wedding ceremony.

As exciting as New York’s landmark civil rights victory is, let’s not forget that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA, is still law. Under DOMA, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages, which means that same-sex couples, though legally allowed to marry in six states and the District of Columbia, are not entitled to the same federal benefits as legally married opposite-sex couples. You can help right this injustice by asking your Members of Congress to support the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA and respect all couples’ right to love under the law.

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I don't know if it's fair to say that the Orthodox movement is solidly against gay marriage. I'm Orthodox born and bred, and I support it. My mother was raised Orthodox by Holocaust survivors and has been frum every day of her life, and she supports it too.

How to cite this page

Bigam, Kate. "Gay, Jewish New Yorkers: Mazel tov to the newlyweds!." 26 July 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/gay-jewish-new-yorkers-mazel-tov-to-newlyweds>.

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