Usually Angry LGBT Activists Have a Blast During Manhattan Marriage Marathon

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MENY president Cathy Marino-Thomas hugs Lt. Dan Choi
Between the "Rainbow Chuppa," the Avenue Q puppets, the scores of happy brides and grooms, and even a glitter bomb, the scene in Foley Square yesterday outside of Manhattan's Marriage Bureau felt like a carnival. It was a little disconcerting seeing just about every activist we've covered over the past two years, many who'd chained themselves to the Marriage Bureau itself and given enraged speeches in front of it, relaxed and enjoying themselves.

But it was also a great deal of fun.

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CBST's "Rainbow Chuppa"
Members of Marriage Equality New York, Queer Rising, Gay Men's Health Crisis, several religious congregations, and Lt. Dan Choi were laid back and jovial yesterday, as hundreds of New Yorkers got married around them. Unlike when we have observed these people in this space before, there was no angst, or agita or anger. There was just joy.

Even the one time a Westboro Baptist Church member got under a gay activist's skin and the activist glitter bombed him, it came off as an act of frivolity, adding to the deliriously circus-like mood.

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Gabriel Blau of CBST (pictured above, center) and his husband Dylan Stein got married under the congregation's Rainbow Chuppa, in front of their son Elijah. Other members of the congregation belted out "Going to the Chapel," while an electric violinist played wedding favorites nearby.

By the early afternoon, the scene wound down considerably, as newlyweds headed off to luncheons, and activists headed to the LGBT Center, to counter protest NOM, or to take the much desired shower everyone was looking forward in the endlessly muggy air.

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Two grooms wed in front of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
By the evening, many camped out all morning in Foley Square met at Pier 40 to board the Queen of Hearts. Coincidentally, MENY had booked a "Sea Tea" fundraising cruise on the boat several months ago, long before they knew what an important date July 24 would be in the history of their organization. (During the cruise, MENY announced they are staying in business, but turning their attention to federal marriage and DOMA.)

Many people onboard wanted to thank Lt. Choi, still in his dress blues despite the unyielding heat, for his activism. (The Lieutenant was relived to learn that the ship's captain was also a fellow Marine veteran.)

Shortly after the Queen set sail, yet another wedding occurred, our 11th (and last) of the day, as a priest joined two men on the ship's tiny deck at sunset, with the Statue of Liberty coming up right behind them.

They got it in just under the wire, in time to take advantage of a bonus for those who wed the first day same-sex marriage was legal. As someone we overheard in Foley Square pointed out, "Hey! We all got married on the same day! There are so many of us, we'll never be able to forget our anniversary!"

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher


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