Sharon Papo first wed her wife, Amber Weiss, in a commitment ceremony in 2005. Then they had a state-recognized ceremony in 2008, when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California. And finally, as a method of changing hearts and minds after same-sex marriage became illegal with the passage of Proposition 8, they indulged in six more unofficial wedding ceremonies.
This weekend, the self-described “love warriors” and their 11-month-old son will be in New York to celebrate victory on the same-sex marriage battlefield there. Late last month, New York’s governor signed a bill legalizing such marriage, and Saturday night, just past midnight, the first couples will be allowed to be married in the eyes of their government.
Papo will be wearing a Statue of Liberty costume. Her wife will wear a Lady Justice costume. Their son will be wearing an “I Heart New York” shirt. They will come bearing heart-shaped lollipops and signs reading, “Sending love from California.”
Papo said even though she won’t be getting hitched, she and her wife wanted to support other same-sex couples who will be saying “I do.”
“It’s an honor to witness love history,” she said.
Papo and her family aren’t the only San Franciscans making the pilgrimage.
Joe Gallagher and his fiance, Mike McAllister, are arranging a ceremony on the Brooklyn Promenade in August. New York City was overwhelmed with applications by lesbian and gay couples who want to marry on the first day they are allowed to, Sunday, so the city is holding a lottery to fill the 764 available slots.
The two men first got to know each other nearly a decade ago when McAllister began getting his hair cut in Gallagher’s barbershop. They have been engaged for three years, but did not marry before Prop. 8 passed.
Since then, the couple has considered going to another state that allows same-sex marriage, but none really inspired them, Gallagher said.
But New York was a different story: Gallagher had spent 11 years there, and McAllister went there for graduate school, a period of his life that changed him. They initially expected just a few friends and family members to show up to the wedding. But everyone wanted to come — the guest count is now 48 people, he said.
Gallagher said the experience has made him realize how important the term “marriage” is to people.
“If we were going to New York to declare our domestic partnership, no one would take time off to come, even though it would be the same ceremony,” he said. “Everybody’s reaction, it’s just been mind-boggling.”