Before and after ‘I Do,’ political meets personal for Council Speaker

Editors' Note: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 marks the first anniversary of legal marriages between same-sex couples in New York. To celebrate, Freedom to Marry is sharing the stories of same-sex couples who tied the knot this year, celebrating their love and commitment with beautiful ceremonies and gatherings of their friends, family members, and other loved ones. Here, we share the story of Christine C. Quinn, New York City Council Speaker, and her wife Kim M. Catullo, who married on May 19, 2012. Read all of our stories about the first year of the freedom to marry in New York

As speaker of the New York City Council, Christine C. Quinn is used to being in the spotlight in high-profile settings. But this spring, the social event of the year had her downright nervous.

And rightfully so: After more than a decade as a couple, she and her partner Kim M. Catullo, a products liability lawyer, married May 19 among family and friends, colleagues, and a who's who of the political elite.

Now, marking one year since the freedom to marry took effect in New York, Chris says she's still surprised at how much it means to her.

"When the bill passed, I was elated. I was over the moon," she said. "It was as if the law of this state went out and wrapped its arms around me, and families like mine, and said: ‘Come on in fully into our state. You fully live here, too.' "

But that wasn't the best part, she said: "In a year since that, countless, countless, New Yorkers, in every corner of the city, in every borough, have been happy about marriage equality, have congratulated me, have asked me questions about how my dress was going to look. The thing that's interesting, - and the thing I think the opponents don't get - is that there's a lot of bad things that happen in our world: people are unemployed, people get sick, there's crime. But passing a law that allows people who want to be married to get married, is just a nice thing. And there aren't that many times in life when nice things happen."

As a key figure in the marriage debate leading up to its passage in New York, Chris said people constantly stop her to share their stories.

"A couple of days ago, I was in an ice cream shop on the Jersey Shore (not a state that yet has marriage equality), and I hear someone yelling my name. It was two women who got married last July 24th with a heterosexual couple who had been their witnesses. I didn't know these two women personally, but I had taken a picture with them on July 24th, and they were so thrilled to talk to me about their wedding, to talk to me about their photo album, to tell me that I was in there photo album. It still lifted them up to a happier place."

"In fact, one of the two women remembered the exact moment her cell phone rang and she heard from the City that she had won the lottery to be married. She told me that she had never won anything in her life, and she didn't care if she didn't win anything again, because she had won the greatest thing that she could.

Those kinds of stories tell her that there's much more to say on what the freedom to marry means - to everyone. "So join with me, and tell your story about marriage equality," she said. "Because when we send that message to other places, we're going to win people over."

(Photo by P.H. Yeh)